Objective: Report the efficacious use of stellate ganglion blocks (SGBs) in treating the anxiety symptoms of four patients diagnosed with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and discuss possible mechanisms of action to explain these findings.
Background: Successful treatment of PTSD with SGB has been demonstrated and reported previously at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. An identical protocol was used at Tripler Army Medical Center to treat four service members diagnosed with combat-related PTSD.
Methods: All patients reported received an SGB on the right side at the level of C6. The patient's PTSD symptoms were evaluated using the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL). This checklist was distributed one day before treatment and again the day following treatment. The patients were also given the PCL at subsequent follow-up visits to quantify sustained benefit.
Results: SGB showed acute benefit for the symptoms of PTSD by markedly reduced PCL scores after the procedure. Benefits were also sustained during close outpatient follow-up.
Conclusion: Selective blockade of the right stellate ganglion at C6 is a minimally invasive procedure with an excellent safety profile that may provide sustained relief of PTSD symptoms. The procedure may also provide benefit for those who are resistant to psychotropic intervention.
Reprint & Copyright © 2013 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.