Anesthesia & Clinical Research

Anesthesia & Clinical Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2155-6148

+44 1223 790975


Use of Stellate Ganglion Block for Refractory Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Published Cases

Maryam Navaie, Morgan S. Keefe, Anita H. Hickey, Robert N. McLay, Elspeth Cameron Ritchie and Salahadin Abdi

Introduction: The lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is estimated to be 7.3% in the U.S. population, 10-20% among active duty service members and 35-40% among veterans. Overall success rates of evidence-based therapies for PTSD are low, leading clinicians to explore new therapeutic options. This study evaluated all published articles on the use of stellate ganglion block (SGB) as an adjunctive therapy for treatmentrefractory PTSD.

Methods: EMBASE, PubMed, PsychINFO and Cochrane databases were searched using keyword combinations including stellate ganglion block, SGB, post-traumatic stress disorder, and PTSD. Articles were restricted to English language with no date delimiter. Twelve publications were identified, seven of which were eliminated due to lack of case data, duplicate patient sample, or descriptive reports with no standardized PTSD symptom assessment. Twenty-four cases from five articles were examined further by two independent evaluators who extracted data on sociodemographic and clinical characteristics including PTSD symptoms, comorbidities, and treatment history. Interrater reliability showed complete agreement (κ=1.0).

Results: Cases were predominantly male (n=21, 88%) and active duty military (n=14, 58%) or veterans (n=8, 33%) with combat-related PTSD. The average age was 40.5 years (±10.0 SD). All cases had received >1 year of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy before SGB. Seventeen cases (71%) received one SGB, seven (29%) received multiple SGBs. Clinically meaningful improvements were observed in 75% (n=18) of cases after SGB, with significant differences in mean PTSD scores pre- (69.5 ± 26.6) and post-SGB (34.2 ± 32.5) across cases (p<0.001). The effect size was relatively large (d=1.2). On average, PTSD improved by 50.4% (± 30.9 SD; range: 6.3-98.4) for cases with one SGB and 69.0% (± 28.0 SD; range: 9.2-93.5) for cases with multiple SGBs.

Conclusions: Most patients with treatment-refractory PTSD experienced rapid improvement after SGB. Robust clinical trials are needed to determine SGB’s treatment efficacy for PTSD.