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Lumbar Sympathetic Plexus (Ganglion) Block

Ganglion Block: A Targeted Approach to Pain Relief

A ganglion block is a medical procedure that involves injecting local anesthetic into the sympathetic nerve tissue located in the neck region. This injection, which may include both steroids and anesthetic, is specifically designed to alleviate localized pain that a patient may be experiencing.

Understanding the Procedure

Nerve Groups and Effect: The celiac, lumbar, hypogastric plexus, and splanchnic nerves are clusters of nerves situated near the spine, which control the internal abdominal or pelvic organs. Blocking these nerves with a local anesthetic can enhance circulation and mitigate pain. Increased circulation means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the affected area. The relief from pain through this method may last anywhere from 1-2 hours to several days. If successful, a series of blocks might be scheduled to continually disrupt the pain cycle.

Preparing for the Injection

General Pre-injection Instructions:

  • Allergies: Please notify our staff of any allergies, especially to iodine.
  • Sedation: If you are to be sedated, avoid eating on the morning of the procedure. Insulin-dependent diabetics may need to adjust their insulin dosage due to fasting.
  • Routine Medications: Continue taking routine medications, such as those for high blood pressure or diabetes (e.g., Glucophage), on the day of the procedure.
  • Pain Medications: Continue taking pain or anti-inflammatory medications as well.
  • Blood Thinners: If you are on blood thinners like Coumadin, inform the staff so proper precautions can be taken.
  • Transportation: It is recommended to have a driver accompany you for the ride home.

Procedure Details

Ganglion Block Procedure:

  1. An IV is started before the procedure.
  2. Depending on the target area, the patient is placed either on their back for a stellate ganglion (neck) block or their stomach for a lumbar (low back) block.
  3. The targeted area is cleaned with antibacterial soap.
  4. A small area of the skin is numbed, causing a brief stinging sensation.
  5. Using x-ray guidance, the physician inserts a fine needle to the sympathetic nerves’ location.
  6. Contrast (dye) is injected to confirm proper needle positioning.
  7. Finally, local anesthetic is administered to achieve the block.

Aftercare and Recovery

What Happens After the Procedure?:

  • The patient will be examined and asked to report the level of pain relief.
  • Temporary weakness or numbness in the arm(s), chest wall, or leg(s) may occur but will wear off.
  • Possible reactions to the blocks will be discussed at the time of the procedure.
  • Normal activities may be resumed on the day of the procedure, but driving is discouraged for that day.

By following these guidelines and understanding the procedure, the ganglion block can be a safe and effective part of your pain management plan. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our medical team.