Stellate ganglion block improves refractory post-traumatic stress disorder and associated memory dysfunction: a case report and systematic literature review

Mil Med. 2013 Feb;178(2):e260-4. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00290.


The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has reached epidemic proportions among U.S. veterans, many of whom also have concurrent alcohol use disorder. This case report describes improvements in PTSD symptom severity and memory dysfunction in a combat-exposed veteran with persistent PTSD and alcohol use disorder following two treatments of stellate ganglion block (SGB). PTSD severity was measured using the PTSD Checklist, Military Version. Memory function was evaluated using the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. One month after the first SGB, a 43.6% reduction in PTSD severity was observed along with increases in immediate memory (50%), recent memory (28%), and recognition memory (25%). Following a second SGB, PTSD severity decreased by 57.7% and memory function substantially improved, with pronounced changes in immediate memory (50%), recent memory (58%), and recognition memory (36%). One year after SGB treatments, the patient has stopped drinking alcohol, continues to have sustained relief from PTSD, has improved memory function, and has become gainfully employed. Future studies that employ robust epidemiologic methodologies are needed to generate confirmatory evidence that would substantiate SGB's clinical utility as an adjunctive treatment option for PTSD.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nerve Block / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / therapy*
  • Military Personnel*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Stellate Ganglion*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*