A collection of sympathetic nerves at the front of the last two cervical vertebrae in the neck is referred to as the “stellate ganglion.” The stellate ganglion supplies the arms and face, as part of the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nerves are not involved with movement or feeling. If the nerves become sensitized by infection, trauma, or other events, there could be pain from activity in the sympathetic nerves. A stellate ganglion block is a procedure used for either diagnostics or providing relief from pain.
WHAT IS A STELLATE GANGLION BLOCK?
A stellate ganglion block is a procedure in which local anesthetic is injected into the front of the neck. This procedure is sometimes done for the purpose of determining the cause of pain in the arms, chest, head, and face.
A stellate ganglion block is done to provide relief and/or pain management for the following conditions:
- Nerve injury
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome
- Pain in the chest, neck, arm, or head caused by intractable angina
- Herpes zoster aka shingles
- Excessive perspiration in the hands, arms, face, and head
WHAT TO EXPECT IN A STELLATE GANGLION BLOCK PROCEDURE
Before a stellate ganglion block is performed, you will need to sign a consent form. Your blood pressure will be checked, and an intravenous is started. Patients are usually but not always sedated when the procedure is performed. Probes that sense temperature are placed on your hands. You will lie on your back, and the treatment area will be cleansed using antiseptic soap.
Using a fluoroscopy for x-ray guidance, the physician injects an anesthetic through a fine needle near the stellate ganglion, a process that can take up to 10 minutes. Pain relief may not be immediate; it may be up to 20 minutes before the full effect of the medication is felt. Temporary effects could include hoarseness, droopy or red eyes, or warmth in the face.
If you have one of the conditions that may benefit form the treatment of a stellate ganglion block, contact the team of Edwin W. Maldonado at Certified Spine & Pain Care today.