Stellate Ganglion Injections

Description

A stellate ganglion injection is a procedure involving the injection of local anesthetic to block sympathetic nerves on either side of the voice box in the neck. Stellate ganglion injections may alleviate symptoms such as pain, swelling, color, and sweating changes in the upper extremity, as well as improve mobility. The injection is targeted to treat pain in the head, neck, chest, or arm. 

Stellate ganglion injections can be performed for therapeutic (to relieve pain) and/or diagnostic (to determine the source of pain) purposes. Physicians may recommend a series of blocks 1-2 weeks apart, allowing patients to experience more long term pain relief. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, lasts 30 minutes, and involves the following steps:

  • Intravenous medication is administered to relax the patient

  • The skin near the target area is cleansed

  • A thin needle is positioned using X-ray guidance

  • Local anesthetic is injected, then an anesthetic medication is injected

Indications

A stellate ganglion injection is effective in diagnosing and treating circulation problems or nerve injuries, including the following conditions:

  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

  • Causalgia

  • Complex regional pain syndrome type I or II

  • Herpes zoster infection 

  • Phantom limb pain

The procedure is performed to achieve the following effects:

  • Diagnose the cause of pain in the face, head, arms, and chest

  • Manage pain in the head, neck, chest, or arm caused by nerve injuries or shingles

  • Reduce sweating in the face, head, arms, and hands

  • Treat reflex sympathetic dystrophy, sympathetically maintained pain, or complex regional pain syndrome