A stellate ganglion block is performed under fluoroscopy to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve chain; and if that damage is the source of a patient’s arm pain.

This procedure is used to show damage to sympathetic nerve chain diagnosing the source of the patient’s arm pain. It may provide pain relief in excess of the duration of the anesthetic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stellate Ganglion Block

Who will give me the block and how is it done?
The blocks are administered by a pain medicine specialist who is trained in chronic pain therapy. A local skin anesthetic is given. A very thin spinal needle is inserted in the base of the neck on the affected side, near the transverse process of the cervical spine. A small amount of x-ray dye is injected to confirm position. Once placement is achieved, a mixture of numbing medication and steroids will be injected.

How long does it take?
It will take less than an hour, including recovery time.

What should I expect?
The block takes place in a procedure room. You will be placed in a gown and positioned on your back. The area will be cleansed with a sterile solution and numbed with an injection of lidocaine. Many describe a burning or stinging sensation for a few seconds. You can expect hoarseness of your voice, redness of the eye, drooping of eyelid, and papillary constriction for four to eight hours after the injection. Duration of relief is variable.

Will it work immediately?
The patient may notice increased warmth and color in the affected arm and pain relief may be noted immediately.

How should I prepare for the injection?
You may eat lightly before the procedure. ARRANGE FOR A DRIVER TO TAKE YOU HOME. Your procedure will be rescheduled if you do not have a driver; Notify the nurse if you are taking blood thinner, Aspirin or an anti-inflammatory; or have an infection or are sick. You will have to get approval from the doctor who ordered the blood thinner to stop taking the medication three days in advance for Coumadin, seven days for Aspirin, and four days for anti-inflammatories or Plavix.

Blood will need to be drawn prior to procedure to make sure it is not too thin. You may take your routine medication the day of the procedure (heart, diabetes, blood pressure). Expect to be at the office one to two hours. This includes registration, paperwork, review of consent, procedure, recovery and review of discharge instructions. NOTE: This procedure cannot be performed if you have an active infection, flu, cold, uncontrolled cough, fever or very high blood pressure. Please make your nurse or doctor aware of any of these conditions.