A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthetic in the sympathetic nerve tissue of the neck. These nerves are a part of the sympathetic nervous system. The nerves are located on either side of the voice box, in the neck.
A stellate ganglion block blocks the sympathetic nerves that go to the arms, and, to some degree, the sympathetic nerves that go to the face.
The actual injection takes only a few minutes and consists of a local anesthetic. A steroid medication may be added to prolong the effects of the stellate ganglion block.
Commonly the stellate ganglion block can be done under local anesthesia only. Many patients also receive enough intravenous sedation that they fall asleep for a few minutes during the actual injection.
Immediately after the injection, you may feel your arm getting warm. Additionaly, you may notice that your pain is gone or quite less. You may also notice “a lump in the throat” as well as hoarse voice, a droopy and red eye and some nasal congestion on the side of the injection. A few patients develop a headache.
Because of the effects of the sedation, you should have a ride home. We advise patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure.
If you respond to the first injection, you will be recommended for repeat injections. Usually, a series of such injections is needed to treat the problem. Some may need only 2 to 4 and some may need more than 10.