The stellate ganglion is located at the base on the front of the neck, on both sides of the voice box. The stellate ganglion regulates functions such as blood flow, pain in the head, neck, upper chest, and upper arms. Most frequently it is used to help patients with CRPS. A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthetic that temporarily interrupts activity in the sympathetic nerves in the neck, used to diagnose or treat certain nerve conditions. The block is performed under the fluoroscopic x-ray guidance. The needle is placed in either the C6 transverse process approach or the C7 anterior paratracheal approach. Contrast is injected to confirm appropriate and safe needle placement. The procedure can be repeated multiple times, if need.
The local anesthetic is felt immediately but its effects may be temporary. Once the anesthetic wears off you may feel sore around the injection site from the needle insertion. Individual responses can vary from short-term to long period of pain relief. The pain-free phase lasts longer with each additional injection, if needed.
Generally, 10 minutes for the procedure with 15-20 minutes in the recovery room since the medication takes some time to act. You will be monitored by a nurse in the recovery room to review discharge and follow-up instructions.
If local anesthetics are used, we advise you not to drive for at least 12 hours. If sedation is used, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours. You will need to carefully monitor the degree and duration of your pain relief. By the next day, you may resume your normal daily activities.
Side effects and adverse reactions are rare. The most common side effect is temporary discomfort. With the stellate ganglion block injection, you may temporarily experience droopy eyelids, red or blood shot eyes, stuffy nose, hoarse voice or “lump” in your throat, warmth or tingling in your arms.