Stellate Ganglion Block


What is a Stellate Ganglion Block?

  • The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerve fibres (ganglion) located at the side of your neck (near your voice box) that make up the sympathetic chain.
  • A stellate ganglion block involves the injection of local anaesthetic into this ganglion.
  • The aim of this procedure is to block these sympathetic nerves, thereby decreasing the pain that you are experiencing and increasing the blood flow to your face, neck and arm.
  • This procedure is used for conditions such as:
    • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS);
    • Ménière's disease (an inner ear condition);
    • Postherpetic neuralgia (pain after Herpes Zoster / shingles) affecting the face, head, or arms;
    • Facial pain.


Prior to the Procedure

  • All blood thinning products (except aspirin) must be stopped prior to your procedure. You will be advised by letter when to stop taking these medications at the time that your admission date is arranged.
  • You are able to take your other regular medications with a sip of water on the morning of your procedure.
  • If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you will always be at the beginning of the list. Please bring your insulin with you and it will be given to you following your procedure.
  • Hamilton Day Surgery Centre staff will advise you of your fasting and admission times.
  • You must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew prior to your procedure.
  • You will need to organise someone to drive you home after the procedure as you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.


What Will Happen?

  1. You will be admitted to the day surgery by a nurse and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  2. The anaesthetist will speak with you and place a cannula (plastic needle) into a vein in your hand.
  3. In the procedure room, you will be assisted to position on the procedure table on your back.
  4. The anaesthetist may give you some sedation into your vein.
  5. Local anaesthetic will be injected into the side of your neck.
  6. After the injection, you will be taken to recovery where you will remain for approximately 1 hour.
  7. After 30 minutes, you will be given some water to sip.
    • If you are unable to swallow the water you will need to stay in recovery until you complete a satisfactory sip test.
  8. You will remain in recovery for approximately one hour and allowed to go home with a carer shortly thereafter.
  9. Expect your eyelid and mouth on the side of your injection side to droop - This is called a “positive Horner’s sign”.
  10. You may also have some nasal congestion, a hoarse voice and you may develop a headache.
  11. These side effects are temporary.


Post Procedure

  • You will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • We generally suggest you take it easy for 48 hours prior to returning to your pre-procedure activities.
  • The local anaesthetic will wear off in a few hours but the blockade to the sympathetic nerves may last for many hours.
  • You may need a series of injections.
    • The number of injections you require will depend on your response to each injection.
  • A nurse from HPC will telephone you 24 to 48 hours following your procedure to check on your progress and organise a follow up appointment.

If you require further explanation of the procedure, please contact Hunter Pain Clinic nursing staff on (02) 4985 1800.


* Image courtesy of patrisyu at