The stellate ganglion plays a significant role in certain pain conditions in the head, face, neck, chest and upper arms. It is located in the front of the neck on both sides of the voice box. These nerves are part of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system that control involuntary functions such as sweating, blood pressure, digestion and heart rate.
A Stellate Ganglion Nerve Block involves injecting anesthetic around the ganglion nerves in an attempt to block pain signals from reaching the brain. The procedure can also be initially used to help diagnose the cause of your pain symptoms.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under sedation for your comfort and usually takes between 15 to 20 minutes. While lying on your back with your neck tilted upward, the skin is cleaned and numbed with anesthetic. Your physician uses a fluoroscopic X-ray machine to help guide the needle to the targeted area around the stellate ganglion. The medication is injected and the needle is removed.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes as you recover from the sedation. You will need someone to drive you home. Your pain may return as the anesthetic wears off. The effects of the injection vary from patient to patient, but can last several months or longer. If effective, the procedure can usually be repeated.