A stellate ganglion block is an injection to block the sympathetic nerves located on either side of the voice box in the neck. An injection at these nerves may reduce symptoms such as pain, swelling, color, sweating changes in the upper extremity and may also improve mobility.
This injection is typically ordered for pain located in the head, neck, chest or arm caused by sympathetically maintained pain (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), causalgia (nerve injury), herpes zoster (shingles) involving an arm or the head and face, or intractable angina (pain related to decreased blood flow to the heart). Stellate ganglion blocks are also used to see if blood flow can be improved in those patients with circulation problems related to vascular disease.
Stellate ganglion blocks may be therapeutic (to relieve pain) and/or diagnostic (to determine the source of your pain). These nerves are a part of the sympathetic nervous system. Image-guided stellate ganglion blocks have the advantages of increased safety and accuracy compared with blind injections. The needle can be accurately placed near the stellate ganglion, and, as a result, a safer and smaller amount of drug can be used, reducing the risk of adverse effects.