The stellate ganglion is a member of the sympathetic nervous system and is located on both sides of the neck. If damaged, it can cause pain in the head and neck area as well as the arms. If pain in any of these regions persists, a physician may recommend a stellate ganglion block. It is a diagnostic tool that, if successful, lets a physician know that the source of the pain is coming from the stellate ganglion region. If the nerve block does not adequately treat pain, then the stellate ganglion can be ruled out.
What to Expect
Patients can expect to have the injection towards the front of the neck. The block will be at the base of the neck closer to the collarbone rather than near the chin. During the procedure, the patient will be lying down. Patients first receive local anesthesia to make the area numb. If the physician chooses to use a fluoroscope, a dye will be injected to confirm that the needle is going directly into the stellate ganglion. Finally, anesthetic medication is injected through the needle. Coughing or swallowing may move the needle, so patients may be asked to reschedule if they become sick.
Patients can expect to stay in the office for a short time as the physician monitors the patient for an allergic reaction, but the entire procedure should not last more than an hour.
After the Procedure
Our physicians advise against driving home after a stellate ganglion block because the anesthesia may still be impairing the patient. Patients may experience a few side effects as the anesthesia wears off, including: drooping of the eyelids, numbness around the arms and neck, temporary hoarseness, or feeling warm. Patients may have an allergic reaction to either the dye or the solution once they get home, so patients should look out for shortness of breath or swelling. If these symptoms arise, please call our office immediately.