What is a Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB)?
A stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a sympathetic block in which a local anesthetic (numbing medication) is injected into the bone of the neck for pain located in the head, neck, chest, or arm. This may be caused by Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, which is often a result of nerve injury causing adrenaline in the body to stimulate pain signals. It may also be caused by herpes zoster (shingles), or intractable angina or heart related chest pain. Stellate ganglion blocks are also used to see if blood flow can be improved in circulation problems from Raynaud’s or CREST syndrome.
How long does the SGB injection take?
The injection procedure takes about 10 minutes.
What are the pre-requisites in order to perform this procedure?
You may need to stop taking certain medications several days before the procedure, especially anticoagulant or “blood thinning” medications, as well as other prescription and/or over the counter medications, including herbal and vitamin supplements.
Will the injection hurt?
The physician has to press on your neck to locate the area to be injected. Many patients find this awkward and somewhat uncomfortable. The injection itself is done using a very small needle. Most people say the burning/stinging of the numbing medicine is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure, though everyone’s response to pain is individual.
What should I expect after the procedure and what are the side effects?
There are expected changes that result from blocking the sympathetic nerves. These changes last about 4-6 hours. You may note, on the injected side: drooping of the eyelid, “bloodshot eye”, stuffy nose, temperature increase, you may also experience hoarseness and/or difficulty swallowing, and a warm arm.
What should I do after the procedure?
Your neck may be tender or feel bruised after the injection. One eye may be droopy for 1-2 hours only. If you experience hoarseness in your voice, use caution when swallowing. If your arm gets numb or heavy you will have to protect it with a sling until sensation returns, usually for 4-6 hours. You may take your prescribed pain medications after the injection.