Stellate Ganglion Block (Sympathetic Block)

What is a stellate ganglion block?

A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthetic that temporarily interrupts activity in the sympathetic nerves in the neck. The stellate ganglion nerves are located in the neck next to, but not in, the spine. These nerves influence and help control the size of blood vessels and thus the flow of blood to the arms, head, and neck.

What are the goals of a stellate ganglion block?

The goals of a stellate ganglion block are:

  • To provide diagnosis
  • To reduce and possibly eliminate pain
  • To increase function

How will a stellate ganglion block help my condition?

A stellate ganglion block temporarily interrupts activity of stellate sympathetic nerves. This interruption will improve pain as well as improve blood flow. You may require repeated injections for optimal pain relief.

What happens during a stellate ganglion block?

You will remain awake for the entire procedure. An intravenous (IV) line will be started prior to the injection. The procedure lasts about 15 minutes.

Once in the procedure suite:

  • You will be positioned lying face up.
  • The area for the injection will be washed with an antiseptic solution.
  • A local anesthetic may be used to numb the injection site.
  • You will be asked to remain as still as possible.
  • You will be asked to use non-verbal cues during the procedure.
  • You may feel pressure while the medication is injected.

What happens after the procedure?

You will be monitored for approximately 15 minutes, because the medication takes some time to act. A nurse will review discharge and follow-up instructions with you.

You may temporarily experience:

  • droopy eyelids
  • red or bloodshot eyes
  • stuffy nose
  • hoarse voice or “lump” in your throat
  • warmth or tingling in your arms

You will need to carefully monitor the degree and duration of your pain relief. The day after your procedure, you may resume your normal daily activities.