Stellate Ganglion Block
















This is a procedure performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. It is indicated for diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome involving the upper extremity. Stellate ganglion is part of the sympathetic nervous system which may mediate pain in the upper extremity. Complex regional pain syndrome is a neuropathic pain condition which could follow a nerve injury in the context of a trauma or surgery. In some cases, no specific nerve injury is identified yet the patient has the presentation compatible with CRPS. By blocking this sympathetic chain, patient experiences reduced neuropathic pain in the upper extremity.




It is important to know risks associated with any medical or surgical treatment. There is a potential risk associated with this procedure which includes:


  • Pneumothorax/collapsed lung

  • Seizures

  • Immediate or delayed allergic reaction to medication use

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Bone infarct

  • Temporary increase in pain

  • Brachial plexus injury-temporary weakness/numbness

  • Spinal epidural block

  • High blood sugar levels

  • Transient vaginal spotting

  • Transient facial flushing

  • Cervical nerve root injury




Procedure should not be performed in patients with the following conditions:


  • Allergies to local anesthetics or steroids

  • Local or systemic bacterial infections

  • Pregnancy

  • Bleeding disorders

  • Tumors

  • Uncontrolled congestive heart failure or diabetes

  • When the risk of holding certain mediations (Aspirin, antiplatelet drugs/blood thinners) outweighs benefit of the procedure

Certain medications have to be held before elective spinal procedures. A list of such medications is included on the last few pages of this educational handout. It is required that you ask your Primary Care Provider and/or Cardiologist if it is safe to stop such medication before the procedure. Continue to take all other medications, especially your blood pressure and diabetes medications.


A sample of medications that have to be held includes:


  1. Aggrenox® (dipyridamole)

  2. Aspirin

  3. Coumadin® (warfarin)

  4. Effient® (prasugrel)

  5. Fragmin® (dalteparin)

  6. NSAIDS (see below)

  7. Herbal blood thinners

  8. Heparin

  9. Eliquix (apixaban)

  10. Lovenox® (enoxaparin)

  11. Plavix® (clopidogrel),

  12. Pradaxa® (dabigatran)

  13. Ticlid® (ticlopidine)


NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, nabumetone, diclofenac, etodolac, indomethacin, ketorolac, meloxicam, piroxicam, ketoprofen, oxaprozin).


Please let us know if you have had a fever, antibiotic treatment, any illness or hospitalization within the last 4 weeks. You must be healthy and off all antibiotics on the day of the procedure.


Make sure you are not pregnant at the time of procedure. Perform a urine pregnancy test the night before your spinal injection and report the results to the nurse before the procedure. Exposure to X-ray (used during spinal procedure) is known to result in birth defects and possible miscarriage. If you are uncertain, cancel and reschedule your procedure until you can confirm that you are not pregnant.




  • Please take a shower, wash the skin with normal soap and DO NOT put skin lotions or medicated creams in the area of injection. Please don’t wear necklaces

  • Arrive 30 minutes early and come with someone that can give you a ride home. The procedure should take less than 30 minutes and your total time from greeting to end should be less than 90 minutes.

  • Bring your latest MRI/CT imaging studies and written reports with you.

  • Have available an updated list of your medications and allergies. Please let the medical staff know if you are allergic to contrast, iodine or latex.

  • Do not eat or drink for 2 hours before your appointment. Diabetics may have a light meal (lower than your usual meal calorie and fat content).

  • After check-in, an identification wristband containing your name and allergies will be placed on your wrist. A nurse or medical assistant will review your current medications, allergies and ask screening questions. Afterward, a nurse will discuss final preparation before the procedure. If necessary an intravenous line will be inserted, particularly if this is your first spinal procedure.

  • In rare cases, oral sedation is needed to reduce anxiety associated with the procedure. This will slow down the entire process. Be sure to take the medication 1 hour before the procedure. It is required that someone be present to drive you to and from the procedure. Without a ride, procedure may be canceled.



  • A gown will be provided for you to put on. You will be escorted to the procedure room by a nurse where a consent form will be reviewed/signed before the procedure. You will then be asked to on table facing up . A small pillow will be placed under your shoulder blade and your head will be turned to the opposite side of the pain.

  • A blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter will be placed on your arm/finger. The medical equipment makes loud noises (beeping, alarms) and you should not be concerned.

  • Intermittently, your doctor will talk to staff in the procedure room and instruct them to perform tasks. Your doctor will guide you through the procedure step by step. For this specific procedure, try to minimize speaking during the procedure and communicate with sounds and blinking rather than using words so the needle position does not change.

  • After standard timeout, your skin will be disinfected with a cool solution and sterile sheet of paper or plastic will be placed onto your skin.

  • When your doctor is ready, the X-ray unit is placed over your spine to identify the target.

  • Skin will be marked and anesthetized (you will feel small pinch and burning sensation). It is normal to feel pressure or muscle spasms as the needle is advanced to the final target.

  • Once the needle is at radiographic target, a small amount of contrast is injected to confirm the final needle position before injecting steroid medication. You may feel transient pressure at the side of your neck . Following this, a small amount of anesthetic will be injected and the physician will wait for one minute prior to finalizing the procedure and injecting total of 3-5 cc of medication before removing the needle. Once procedure is completed, needle is removed, skin is cleaned and Band-Aid is applied. You are then transferred back to the recovery area for 30 minutes observation. Your physician will reexamine you to look for signs of a successful block.




There are changes that will happen quickly after the procedure and are to be expected and your physician uses of such signs to confirm successful blockade. They will resolve spontaneously within 24hrs.

This includes:

  1. Droopy eye on the side of the block

  2. Eye Redness (Bloodshot) on the side of the block

  3. Hoarseness of the voice

  4. Stuffy nose on the side of the block

  5. Temperature changes on the side of the block

  6. Temporally numbness in the upper extremity on the side of the block


  • You will be observed for up to 45 minutes.

  • If you have an intravenous line, it will be removed.

  • A nurse will check your vitals and review the discharge instructions with you as well as answer any questions you may have.

  • You will be given a pain log and a copy of the discharge instruction which contains emergency contact numbers. Please do not discard your discharge instructions.

  • A responsible adult must drive you home.



  • Don’t eat (and only take small sips of fluids ) until your voice hoarseness is gone. If you have no hoarseness, you may resume normal diet.

  • Make a follow-up 2-3 weeks after the procedure and bring your pain log with you.

  • After the procedure do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours.

  • If sedated, do not make financial or important life decisions until the effect of such medication is cleared (24 hours).

  • Do not participate in strenuous activity on the day of procedure.

  • It is okay to shower after the procedure. No bathing/submerging under water for 48 hours.

  • You may remove the bandages 24 hours after the injection. Call if there is excessive redness or signs of infection like warmth, discharge or collection of puss at the site of injection.

  • Resume your normal medications.

  • Continue your blood thinners/anticoagulants/antiplatelets as instructed by your Primary Care Provider or Cardiologist. You may need to check INR/PT/PTT 2-3 days after your procedure. Contact your Primary Care Provider and ask when you should have blood work.

  • Diabetics should monitor blood sugar levels 3 times a day for 3 days after the procedure.




  • Shortness of breath or palpitations after procedure

  • Sudden weakness in the legs, face or arm following the procedure

  • Fever over 101°F within 5 days after procedure

  • Persistent redness, increased localized pain, or discharge from the site of injection.

  • Possible allergic reaction within 5 days of the procedure

  • Intractable headache

  • Significant increased pain not responding to ice, NSAIDS or pain medications

  • Newly developed incontinence of urine or stool following procedure


Most insurance companies require prior authorization to cover this procedure (Medicare beneficiaries require no authorization). Your doctor will provide information to your insurance company for approval. It takes anywhere between 3-15 days for approval.


You will likely have a copayment and deductible for this type of treatment. You will also receive two medical bills related to these types of treatments (hospital bill and doctor bill). Please call your insurance company to understand your benefits.


The codes used for this procedure are: CPT: 64510 + 77003

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