Stellate ganglion block a potential life saver in severe PTSD

November 5th, 2016

Case reports are mounting of immediate, durable, and significant relief of severe refractory symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to an anesthesiologist who has seen the benefits firsthand.

Stellate ganglion blockade (SGB) “seems to significantly improve PTSD symptoms as well as significantly reduce or eliminate suicidal ideation in patients with severe PTSD,” said Eugene Lipov, MD, of the Advanced Pain Center, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Case reports are “steadily growing,” he noted, with the total number of patients treated with SGB for PTSD in the literature now well more than 200, with success rates of “around 70%; adding clonidine pushes it into the 80% range.”

At the American Psychiatric (APA) Association 2015 Annual Meeting, Dr Lipov described three patients who were helped by SGB. All of them underwent a single rightsided SGB injection at the C6 level using 7 cc of local anesthetic under fluoroscopic guidance. PTSD symptoms were assessed using the PTSD Checklist–Military Version (PCL-M). Data on suicidal ideation were collected when available.

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