Stellate Ganglion Block

  • PurposeTo block and diminish pain surrounding the head, neck, chest, or arm. The stellate ganglion is a part of a group of nerves located in the upper neck.  Often, injury or illness affects the function of the sympathetic nervous system causing pain.
  • Overview – The block delivers anesthetic and anti-inflammatory (cortizone) solution directly to the nerves in order to establish a diagnosis and relieve discomfort.  Also, the block is used to improve circulation, as well as treat complex regional pain syndrome, nerve injury, shingles of the neck or face, or intractable angina.
  • Before the procedure – The anti-inflammatory solution may increase your blood sugars.  If you have a history of issues with elevated blood sugars then you should discuss this with your primary care doctor, or endocrinologist.
  • Details – This is an outpatient procedure, often conducted in an operating room. The procedure begins with the patient being connected to monitoring devices as well as skin temperature monitors for safety and comfort purposes. Then, the injection site is numbed. Following the numbing solution, radiopaque dye is used as a contrast solution under x-ray guidance to confirm the correct needle position. Once the accurate location is determined, the anesthetic and anti-inflammatory is injected.
  • After the procedure – The patient may experience side effects, such as droopy eyelids, redness, or blurred vision in the eye of the same side of the block; difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or arm weakness, or warmth. These symptoms may last four to eight hours after the injection. Due to the potential complications, physicians will limit the number of injections given to the patient based on the injection site and reason for treatment; therefore, the number of blocks needed,  will depend on the duration of pain relief between injections.