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Neurolytic Superior Hypogastric Plexus Block for Chronic Pelvic Pain Associated With Cancer
  1. Ricardo Plancarte, M.D.*,
  2. Oscar A. de Leon-Casasola, M.D.,
  3. Mai El-Helaly, M.D.,
  4. Silvia Allende, M.D.* and
  5. Mark J. Lema, Ph.D., M.D
  1. *Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, National Institute of Cancer, Mexico
  2. Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, SUNY, Buffalo, New York
  1. Reprint requests: Dr. Oscar A. de Leon-Casasola, Department of Anesthesiology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, New York, 14263.


Background and Objectives Neurolytic superior hypogastric plexus block has been shown to be safe and effective in selected cancer patients. A large cohort of patients was studied to evaluate the continued efficacy and safety of this block in cancer patients with advanced disease.

Methods A total of 227 pelvic pain patients with gynecological, colorectal, or genitourinary cancer who experienced poor pain control due to either progression of disease or to untoward side effects were enrolled in this study during a 3-year period. All pain patients receiving oral opioids were eligible to participate. A bilateral percutaneous neurolytic superior hypogastric plexus block with 10% phenol was performed 1 day after a successful diagnostic block with 0.25% bupivacaine.

Results All patients reported a visual analog scale (VAS) pain score of 7-10/10 before the block. A positive response to a diagnostic block was obtained in 159 patients (79%). Overall, 115 patients of the 159 patients who responded to a diagnostic block (72%, 95% confidence interval of 65-79%) had satisfactory pain relief (VAS < 4/10), 99 (62%) after one block, and 16 (10%) after a second block. The remaining 44 patients (28%) had moderate pain control (VAS 4-7/10) after two blocks and received oral pharmacological therapy and epidural analgesic therapy with good results. Both groups experienced significant reductions in oral opioid therapy after the neurolytic blocks. No additional blocks were required by patients who had a good response during a follow-up period of 3 months. No complications related to the block were detected.

Conclusions Neurolytic superior hypogastric plexus block provided both effective pain relief and a significant reduction in opioid usage (43%) in 72% of the patients who received a neurolytic block. Overall, this represents 51% of the patients enrolled in the study. Poor results should be expected in patients with extensive retroperitoneal disease overlying the plexus because of inadequate spread of the neurolytic agent.

  • superior hypogastric plexus block
  • pelvic cancer pain
  • neurolytic block
  • phenol
  • gynecological cancer

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