Stellate Ganglion Block

A ganglion is a group of nerves, and the stellate ganglion is one part of the sympathetic nervous systems chain, which is located in the neck. It controls blood flow to the head and arms, and is sometimes involved in pain transmission from those areas.

What is a stellate ganglion block and why is it helpful?

A stellate ganglion block involves injecting medication around the sympathetic nerves in the neck/throat area. By doing this, the system is temporarily blocked in hopes of reducing or eliminating your- pain. If the initial block is successful, than additional blocks are generally repeated in 7-10 days and repeated again until your pain diminishes.

What will happen to me during procedure?

An IV will be started and if you are receiving sedation, relaxation medications will be given. You will be positioned on your back in such a way that your doctor can best visualize the sympathetic nerves using x-ray guidance. The skin on your neck/throat will be scrubbed using a sterile scrub (betadine ). Next, the physician may numb a small area of skin with numbing medication. This medication stings for several seconds. After the numbing medication has been given time to be effective, your doctor will direct a small needle, using x-ray guidance, to the area of the sympathetic nerves. A small amount of contrast (dye) is then injected to insure proper needle position. Then, depending on the physician's preference, either a mixture of numbing
medication (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory (steroid), or only the numbing medication will be injected. Your temperature in the affected arm may be monitored throughout the procedure.

What will happen after the procedure?

You will go back to the recovery area where you will be monitored for a short time. You may experience hoarseness of the voice, redness of the eye, drooping of the eyelid and/or papillary constriction for several hours after the injection. If a good block is accomplished, with good pain relief, a repeat block will be scheduled for you in 7-10 days. It is mandatory to have a driver if you are receiving anesthesia and highly recommended even if you are not receiving sedation, as your arm may feel weak or numb for a few hours.

General Pre/Post Instructions

If you are receiving sedation, do not eat or drink anything six 6) hours prior to your procedure. Do not take pain medication or tranquilizers for (4) hours prior to your procedure. You may take your routine medications (i.e. blood pressure and diabetic medications). If you are diabetic and MUST eat something, please make it LIGHT if you are receiving sedation. If you are on Coumadin, Heparin, Plavix, or any other blood thinners (including aspirin), or the diabetic medication Glucophage, you MUST notify the office so the timing of these medications can be explained. You will be at our facility approximately 1-2 hours before your sedation, you MUST have a driver with you and the driver must sign the release at the Pre-Operation station when you check in. You may return to your normal activities including returning to work, the day after the procedure.