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Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion block is an injection of a local anesthetic (numbing medication) around the stellate group of nerves in the neck under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance or into the celiac group of nerves in the abdomen under CT guidance to relieve pain. The pain relief will affect one side of the head and neck, the upper arm and the upper part of the chest on the same side of the body in a stellate block. A stellate ganglion block may be performed to decrease pain and increase the circulation and blood supply to the affected arm. Celiac blocks may relieve deep abdominal pain in cancer patients.

Procedure preparation

A technologist or nurse will contact you 24-48 hours prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, especially pain medications and blood thinners, discuss known allergies and your medical history, as well as answer your questions.

Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.

Please bring previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs, if available.

You will need a driver for your appointment. If you are unable to drive or arrange transportation, call us for assistance.

Please notify a member of our staff if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

What to expect during the procedure

You will have access to I.V. sedation and monitoring by a nurse.

You will lie on your back with your head tilted slightly back and supported by a pillow.

A radiologist will apply a local skin anesthetic (numbing medication) near the base of the neck on the affected side.

A needle will be inserted using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy) by the radiologist near the appropriate vertebrae in the cervical spine.

A sterile tube will be attached to the needle and anesthetic medication is slowly injected through the tubing.

It takes less than 30 minutes for the procedure, which will be followed by evaluation and recovery for several hours.

What to expect after the procedure

You may note increased warmth and redness of the painful arm during and after the injection.

Expect hoarseness, redness of the eye, drooping of the eyelid and pupil constriction, which may affect your vision, for four to eight hours.

Pain relief may be noted immediately. Duration of relief is variable. Please assess your pain relief over the first three to four hours after the injection and report this to a technologist.