Effect of Stellate Ganglion Block on Specific Symptom Clusters for Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Mil Med. 2016 Sep;181(9):1135-41. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00518.


This study assessed which symptoms are most impacted following stellate ganglion block (SGB) used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. 30 active military service members with combat-related PTSD self-referred to their physician and psychologist. Patients were offered a SGB as part of their treatment program. Primary outcome was the magnitude of change for the 17 items on the PTSD Checklist-Military (PCL-M), which was administered the week before SGB, 1 week after SGB, and 2 to 4 months later. Mean PCL-M score decreased from 49 at baseline to 32, 1 week after the procedure (p < 0.001). 2 to 4 months after SGB, patients maintained an average PCL-M of 32. Patients reported greatest improvement in the first week after SGB for the following symptoms: irritability or angry outbursts, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance. 2 to 4 months later, patients reported greatest improvement in the following: feeling distant or cut off, feeling emotionally numb, irritability or angry outbursts, and difficulty concentrating. SGB is a safe procedure that may provide extended relief for all clusters of PTSD symptoms. As a result of the significant reduction in hyperarousal and avoidance symptoms observed, this study supports incorporation of SGB into PTSD treatment plans.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Autonomic Nerve Block / methods*
  • Autonomic Nerve Block / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stellate Ganglion / drug effects*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome*
  • Veterans / psychology*