Stellate ganglion block

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history

A stellate ganglion block or stellate ganglion blockade or SGB or cervicothoracic ganglion block is a nerve block injection in the lower neck/upper back area, either on the left or the right side.[1]

Theory[edit | edit source]

The stellate ganglion, also known as the cervicothoracic ganglion, is present in 80% of the population, and forms by a natural fusion between the inferior cervical ganglion and first thoracic ganglion.[2] A nerve block is preformed on this ganglion by injecting the adjacent interstitial tissue with a local anesthetic and/or steroid, typically under the guidance of ultrasound or fluoroscopy.

Stellate ganglion blocks were proposed as a treatment for dysautonomia symptoms in Long COVID by Liu and Duricka (2021) based on their treatment of just two patients.[3]

Liu and Duricka proposed that a stellate ganglion block on both sides may cause a "reset" of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which they propose could allow it to return to homeostasis, resolving or improving dysautonomia symptoms. Changes to the sympathetic nervous system affect the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is the other key part of the autonomic nervous system. Dysautonomia is a range of conditions involving the failure of parts of the SNS and PNS, and sometimes over or underactivation.[4]

Evidence[edit | edit source]

Liu and Duricka published a case study of two Long COVID patients, both women in their 40s, who had received stellate ganglion blocks on both left and right sides at their clinic.

Patient self-reports were the only results, there were no medical readings or measures reported:

  • significant improvement in cognitive dysfunction, especially long-term memory recall
  • improvements in fatigue
  • sense of smell and taste returning to normal[3]

Clinicians[edit | edit source]

Luke Liu and Deborah Duricka at Neuroversion, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska.

Risks and safety[edit | edit source]

  • Horner's syndrome results from a successful stellate ganglion block, which is expected to resolve after the block wears off.[3]
  • Liu and Duricka's study is a pre-print and not yet peer reviewed, peer review may highlight significant issues or prevent publication.
  • No medium or long term follow-up information is available for the Liu and Duricka study. It is not known how long the beneficial effects may last, and later complications or issues may develop.
  • Potential conflict of interest by Liu and Duricka, who performed the treatments at the pain clinic Liu owns and where Duricka is employed, leading to possible financial gain from future patients
  • No case series or controlled trials in men, different ethnic groups, or with younger or older people, people with ME/CFS, or people with other medical conditions
  • Extremely small case series, which has not been duplicated by other clinicians.
  • No indication of whether the same treatment has resulted in different results in different patients
  • Nerve block risks - these are reasonably well established

Costs and availability[edit | edit source]

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

  • 2022, Stellate ganglion block reduces symptoms of Long COVID: A case series[3] - (Full text)

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Stellate Ganglion Blocks". Cedars-Sinai. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  2. Mehrotra, Mayank; Reddy, Vamsi; Singh, Paramvir (2021). Neuroanatomy, Stellate Ganglion. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 30969629.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Liu, Luke D.; Duricka, Deborah L. (January 15, 2022). "Stellate ganglion block reduces symptoms of Long COVID: A case series". Journal of Neuroimmunology. 362: 577784. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2021.577784. ISSN 0165-5728. PMC 8653406. PMID 34922127.
  4. "Dysautonomia Information Page". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved December 25, 2021.