Patient Information Sheet – Stellate Ganglion Block

Patient Information Sheet – Stellate Ganglion Block

What is the Stellate Ganglion Block?

Stellate Ganglion Block is an injection of local anesthetic in the sympathetic nerve tissue. These are the nerves that are a part of the Sympathetic Nervous System and are located in the neck, on either side of the voice box.

The stellate ganglion is a part of the sympathetic network and is formed by the inferior cervical and first thoracic gangalia. It is a long, flat structure, approximately 1 cm in length and lies anterior to the head of the first rib.

In laymen terms, the stellate is a group of nerves, located in the neck area, while a Stellate Ganglion Block is an injection of local anesthetic into the front of the neck that is typically ordered for pain located in the head, neck, chest or arm.

What is the purpose of a Stellate Ganglion Block?

The Stellate Ganglion Block is meant to block the Sympathetic Nerves. This may further lead to a reduction in pain, colour, swelling and sweating changes in the upper extremity and may also improve mobility.

A Stellate Ganglion Block is administered as a part of the treatment for following conditions, including circulation problems and nerve injuries:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Sympatheticalluy Maintained Pain
  • Causalgia
  • Refractory Angina
  • Shoulder/Hand syndrome
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

The Stellate Ganglion Block might also be advised for patients suffering from various conditions of vascular insufficiency including Raynaud’s syndrome, scleroderma, frostbite, trauma, vasospasm and the like.

Recent studies indicate that the Stellate Ganglion Blocks have been effective in providing relief from menopausal hot flashes for multiple weeks.

The pain relief experienced received from a Stellate Ganglion Block will affect one side of the head and neck, the upper arm and the upper part of the chest on the same side of the body.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure for administering a Stellate Ganglion Block generally follows the below listed steps:

  1. The patient is asked to sign a consent form. His blood pressure is checked and an IV is started.
  2. When the patient is in position, the neck will be cleansed with antiseptic solution.
  3. The physician will then press on the neck to identify where to place the needle.
  4. Once the needle is in the right place, the medicine is put in through needle, which is later removed.
  5. The patient will keep lying down if the pain is in the head. On the other hand, he will be asked to sit up if the pain is in the arm, so that the medicine spreads down.
  6. The necessary checks, such as pulse and blood pressure will be made before the patient is discharged.

What will happen after the procedure?

Normally, a patient who has undergone a Stellate Ganglion Block might feel one or more of the below symptoms:

  • Warmth in the upper extremity of the body
  • Drastic reduction in pain
  • Feeling of a ‘lump’ in the throat
  • Tearing
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Droopy and red eyes
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache

What are the risk factors involved?

The procedure of Stellate Ganglion Block has a few very rare but serious adverse effects including:

  • Seizure
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Brachial plexus block (numbness in the arm that lasts for long)
  • Spinal or epidural block
  • Allergies
  • Nerve damage

Further Links for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Links for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)