The stellate ganglion is a set of nerves located at the last two vertebra of the neck which supply the face and arm. Trauma, injury or infection to these nerves can cause pain. A stellate ganglion block is an injection containing local anesthesia and a steroid, which blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. The injection can be used for the following:
- Manage pain in your neck, head, arm or chest due to nerve injury, infection or angina (reduced blood flow to heart muscles)
- Reduce sweating in the head, face, arms and hands
- Diagnose the cause for pain
The procedure of administering a stellate ganglion block is performed under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. You will lie on your back. The area of injection in front of your neck is cleaned with antiseptic. Your doctor will gently press your neck to identify the spot for the placement of the needle. During this time, you are instructed to remain still and not talk, cough or swallow. The medication is gradually injected through the needle. After the procedure is complete the needle is removed. The entire procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
You will remain in the recovery area after the procedure. You may feel warmth in the treated area and may have a hoarse voice, red eyes and swallowing difficulties. If you respond to the 1st injection, you will be recommended for a repeat injection. A series of such injections is needed to treat this condition.
Though the risks of the procedure are infrequent, they may include seizures, bleeding at the site of injection, epidural or spinal block (numbness or temporary weakness from the neck and below), collapsed lung, allergic reaction to the medication, or damaged nerves.