The stellate ganglion (or cervicothoracic ganglion) is a sympathetic ganglion formed by the fusion of the inferior cervical ganglion and the first thoracic ganglion, which exists in 80% of cases. Stellate ganglion is located at the level of C7 (7th cervical vertebrae), anterior to the transverse process of C7, superior to the neck of the first rib, and just below the subclavian artery.
The clinical significance of these ganglia is that they may be cut in order to decrease the symptoms exhibited by Raynaud's phenomenon and hyperhydrosis (extreme sweating) of the hands. Injection of local anesthetics near the stellate ganglion can sometimes mitigate the symptoms of sympathetically mediated pain such as complex regional pain syndrome type I (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). Injection is often given near the Chassaignac's Tubercle (anterior tubercle of transverse process of C6) due to this being an important landmark lateral to the cricoid cartilage. It is thought that anesthetic is spread along the paravertebral muscles to the stellate ganglion.
Stellate-ganglion block also shows great potential as a means of reducing the number of hot flashes and night awakenings suffered by breast cancer survivors and women experiencing extreme menopause.
Complications associated with a stellate ganglion block include Horner's syndrome, intra-arterial or intravenous injection, difficulty swallowing, vocal cord paralysis, epidural spread of local anaesthetic and pneumothorax.
Blunt needling of the stellate ganglion with an acupuncture needle is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to decrease sympathetically mediated symptoms as well.
Block of the stellate ganglion has also been explored in coronary artery bypass surgery.
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