FAQs on Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block in Nashville TN

The sphenopalatine ganglion is a nerve bundle located in the back of the throat at the base of the brain. The sphenopalatine ganglion block (SGB) involves administering small electrical currents through a needle for the purpose of destroying the nerves. The block can also be done using neurolytic agents and anesthetics. Destruction of nerves prevents pain signals from reaching the brain.

What conditions are treated with the sphenopalatine ganglion block?

SPG blocks have been used to treat the following conditions:

  • Migraine headache
  • Cluster headache
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Herpes zoster
  • Paroxysmal hemicrania
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Cancer of head or neck
  • Temporomandibular disorder
  • Atypical facial pain

How do I prepare for the sphenopalatine ganglion block?

Before the sphenopalatine ganglion block, you should discuss all your medications with the doctor. Blood-thinning agents are usually held for 4-7 days before the procedure. In addition, you should bring someone to drive you home, as driving is not permitted for 24 hours after the procedure. When you arrive at the medical facility, a nurse will go over the procedure and have you sign a consent form. In addition, an IV catheter will be placed in your arm for medications.

Who cannot have a sphenopalatine ganglion block?

Before you have this medical procedure, discuss your current health status with the doctor. Certain individuals are not candidates for the sphenopalatine ganglion block, such as:

  • Pregnant women because X-ray equipment could harm the unborn baby.
  • Anyone with infection or fever
  • People who are allergic to contrast dye, anesthetics, betadine, and other surgical materials

How is the sphenopalatine ganglion block performed?

The surgical area is cleansed with an antiseptic solution, and the doctor numbs the skin and deeper tissues with an anesthetic. A nasal anesthetic spray is used to numb the nasal cavity, and a small catheter is inserted through the nostril to the back portion of the nose. This is done under x-ray guidance to assure correct placement. An anesthetic agent is applied to numb the region. After 30 minutes, the procedure can be repeated in the other nostril, if necessary.

What are the side effects and risks associated with the SGB?

The SGB is a minimally invasive procedure, so there are a few rare complications associated with the block. These include blood vessel damage, nerve injury, infection, and bleeding of the nose or cheek. Side effects include dizziness, low blood pressure, and pain, but these are only temporary. In addition, there is a risk for allergic reaction to medications and contrast dyes used during the block.

What is sphenopalatine ganglion stimulation?

SPG stimulation is used for treating chronic cluster and migraine headache. With this procedure, a small device is implanted near the sphenopalatine ganglion nerves. This procedure is performed using general anesthesia, and carries certain risks.

Is the sphenopalatine ganglion block effective?

According to recent studies, the sphenopalatine ganglion block is proven as a safe and effective procedure. In a recent clinical trial, radiofrequency ablation of the nerves was found effective for treating intractable chronic cluster headache. Another clinical study reported the efficacy rate at 67%, with pain relief occurring within 7 days of the procedure and pain relief lasting for more than 30 days.

Resources

Felisati G, Arnone F, Lozza P, et al. (2006). Sphenopalatine endoscopic ganglion block: A revision of a traditional technique for cluster headache. Laryngoscope, 116:1447–1450.

Narouze S, Kapural L, Casanova J, & Mekhail N (2009). Sphenopalatine ganglion radiofrequency ablation for the management of chronic cluster headache. Headache, 49(4):571-7.

Schoenen, J; Jensen, RH; Lantéri-Minet, M; Láinez, MJ; Gaul, C; Goodman, AM; Caparso, A; & May, A (2013). Stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) for cluster headache treatment. Pathway CH-1: a randomized, sham-controlled study. Cephalalgia, 33(10):816-30.