Splanchnic Nerve Block for Therapy of Chronic Heart Failure (Splanchnic III)

  • End date
    Sep 30, 2026
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Duke University
Updated on 30 November 2021


Splanchnic vasoconstriction may contribute to decompensation of chronic heart failure (HF) via volume redistribution from the splanchnic vascular bed to the central compartment. This is a sympathetically mediated reflex and can be interrupted through a splanchnic nerve block (SNB). We hypothesize that interruption of the efferent/afferent innervation of the splanchnic vasculature will decrease cardiac congestion in patients presenting with HF. Based on preliminary safety and efficacy data in acute and chronic heart failure patients with temporary (<24 h) SNB. Now we will apply a prolonged SNB in chronic heart failure patients using a long acting agent. We will test the effects of SNB on long term exercise capacitance.


Activation of splanchnic nerves results in vasoconstriction and reduces splanchnic capacitance, therefore recruiting blood volume into the central circulation. In heart failure, a reduced splanchnic vascular capacitance could be the mechanism underlying symptoms of exercise intolerance and could predispose to rapid decompensation with external fluid intake or retention. A compromised vascular reservoir is likely unable to buffer shifts of fluid and actively contributes to the acute or chronic expulsion of fluid from the splanchnic vascular compartment to the central thoracic compartment. The redistribution of blood volume into the central circulation may lead to a sudden rise in pulmonary and left-sided cardiac pressures in HF. This makes the splanchnic vascular compartment an attractive target in heart failure. Our preliminary proof-of-concept work in patients with acute decompensated and chronic heart failure showed promise for the concept of splanchnic nerve modulation in heart failure. In a series of two small first-in-human studies for acute decompensated heart failure (N=13) (NCT02669407) and chronic heart failure (N=17) (NCT03453151), we found that a splanchnic nerve block (SNB) with lidocaine (90 min duration of action) and ropivacaine (24 hours duration of action) acutely reduced resting and exercise-induced intra-cardiac filling pressures, associated with improved patient symptoms and functional capacity.

The present study will be a prospective open-label pilot study to help establish feasibility, safety and enable dose finding for botulinumtoxin. Following a baseline invasive (right heart catheterization) cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX) patients will undergo unilateral celiac plexus block, followed by repeat hemodynamic testing. Functional testing at baseline and follow up will be supplemented by measures of blood volume and autonomic tone.

Condition Chronic Heart Failure
Treatment Splanchnic nerve block
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04575428
SponsorDuke University
Last Modified on30 November 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Followed at DUMC for known or suspected diagnosis of HF (NYHA stage 2-4, Class C-D), including patients on inotropic medication
Systolic blood pressure (SBP) > 100 mmHg
History of HF hospitalization or ER visit or iv diuretic use in last 12 months
Patients will be included regardless of left ventricular ejection fraction

Exclusion Criteria

Anticoagulation at the time the procedure or in case of recent warfarin use an INR >1.4. Anticoagulation includes: warfarin, or novel oral anticoagulants like dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, endoxaban or full dose intravenous heparin products or bivalirudin and fondaparinux). Antiplatelet agents besides aspirin such as ticagrelor, prasugrel, Plavix are also considered to be a contraindication if used at time point of procedure
Immunosuppressive medications for solid organ transplant
Acute MI (STEMI or Type I NSTEMI) within 7 days?
Evidence of progressive cardiogenic shock within 48 hours
Restrictive cardiomyopathy
Constrictive pericarditis
Pericardial effusion with evidence of tamponade
Severe valvular stenosis requiring intervention
Known history of an increased bleeding risk
Thrombocytopenia (< 50,000)
End-stage renal disease CKD stage 5 due to primary renal pathology
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