Stellate Ganglion Block
Patients experiencing pain originating from, or passing through, either of the Stellate Ganglion nerves can undergo a quick, simple and minimally invasive procedure known as the Stallate Ganglion Block.
What is the Stellate Ganglion Block?
The Stellate Ganglion Block is an image-guided procedure/injection used to temporarily numb an area of the Stellate Ganglion / Sympathetic nerve group against pain caused by inflammation. Stellate Ganglion specifically identifies the nerve system between the seventh cervical vertebra (C7) and the first thoracic vertebra (T1): the nervous system at the front of the neck.
This procedure is used to, both, diagnose and treat pain originating in the sympathetic nerve region. It is also used as a common treatment for Shingles and complex regional (head, face, arms and neck) pain syndromes. Normally, several injections are needed for successful treatment.
What happens during the procedure?
The surgical area is equipped with a special fluoroscopic table / patient bed used to help diagnose and identify the target area of the nerve system. (The fluoroscope, in this case, helps to project a live/internal image of the Stellate Ganglion nerve.) This procedure involves an injection to the Stellate Ganglion region.
The patient lies flat on his back on the fluoroscopic table. Before the actual injection is performed, the physician applies an Intravenous (IV) line to administer medication to relax the patient. When the physician judges that the IV treatment has taken effect, a local anesthetic is injected into the skin and tissues around, and down to, the identified Ganglion nerve. This also provides the physician with a “track” through which the actual injection will be administered.
The physician uses the track to inject a harmless fluoroscopic contrast solution. The physician, then, uses the fluoroscope to identify the painful area of the Ganglion nerve and to confirm the correct location of the needle tip. Once the pain location and the needle-tip location are identified, the physician injects the actual Stellate Ganglion Block medication (a mixture of anesthetic, saline and anti-inflammatory agents) around the Ganglion nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
Are there any side effects? And, what are they?
The side effects of the procedure are minimal and temporary. They include:
- Nasal conjestion
- Bloodshot, droopy eye (on the injection side)
- Hoarse voice
- Warm tingling sensation
- Impaired Swallowing
- Normally, these symptoms disappear after several hours.
What is the post-procedure / follow-up like?
If the first procedure alleviates the pain, future injections will be scheduled at intervals determined by the physician. The length of pain relief is progressive from injection to injection. The physician may keep you in the recovery area for periods of 40 to 60 minutes after the procedure is complete. Driving is not recommended for the remainder of the day of the procedure. Because of the effect of the procedure on the throat area, you are advised not to eat or drink anything for a few hours after the procedure.
Can you recommend a reputable physician for the Stellate Ganglion Block procedure?