Single-Fraction Celiac Plexus Radiosurgery: A Preliminary Proof-of-Concept Phase 2 Clinical Trial

Liat Hammer, David Hausner, Maoz Ben-Ayun, Einat Shacham-Shmueli, Ofir Morag, Ofer Margalit, Ben Boursi, Nirit Yarom, Galia Jacobson, Tamar Katzman, Ross Abrams, Adam Dicker, Talia Golan, Zvi Symon, Yaacov R. Lawrence*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Refractory epigastric/midback pain is associated with locally advanced abdominal malignancies, especially pancreatic cancer. The pain is caused by tumor infiltration of the celiac plexus, a nerve network attached to the abdominal aorta. Contemporary palliative approaches are often inadequate. We hypothesized that ablative radiation targeted to the celiac plexus would alleviate this pain. Methods and Materials: We performed a single-arm prospective clinical trial ( identifier: NCT02356406). Eligible and evaluable patients had celiac pain of at least 5 out of 10 on the Numerical Rating Scale, completed treatment per protocol, and had at least 1 posttreatment visit. The entire retroperitoneal celiac plexus was irradiated with a single 25-Gy fraction. The primary endpoint was change in the Numerical Rating Scale 3 weeks posttreatment. Toxic effects and pain interference (as measured with the Brief Pain Inventory) were secondary endpoints. Results: For our study, 31 patients signed consent, and, of these, 18 patients were treated and evaluable. Median age was 68 years (range, 51-79); 89% of the patients had pancreatic cancer; the median Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status was 1; and the median interval from initial diagnosis to treatment was 9 months (range, 1-36), and, in this interval, patients received a median of 1 systemic treatment line (range, 0-3). Acute toxicity was limited to grade 1 to 2. Three weeks after treatment, 16 patients (84%) reported decreased celiac pain, with median pain level falling from 6 out of 10 (interquartile range [IQR], 5.0-7.5) at baseline to 3 out of 10 (IQR, 1.0-4.3); six weeks after treatment, the Numerical Rating Scale number fell further to 2.8 out of 10 (IQR, 0-3.3; both P < .005 vs baseline), including 4 patients who reported complete eradication of their celiac pain. Total daily morphine milligram equivalents decreased from 59 pretreatment to 50 at 3 weeks, and from 50 to 45 at 6 weeks. Significant improvement was seen in pain-interference scores. Conclusions: Celiac plexus radiosurgery appears to alleviate cancer-related pain. An international multicenter phase 2 trial is currently accruing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-593
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


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