Radiofrequency lesions of the stellate ganglion in chronic pain syndromes: Retrospective analysis of clinical efficacy in 86 patients

Tymour Forouzanfar, Maarten Van Kleef, Wilhelm E.J. Weber

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Objective: Stellate ganglion (SG) blockade is used for the treatment of chronic pain syndromes in which the sympathetic nervous system is hypothesized to be involved. A possible treatment modality to achieve long- term pain reduction is blockade of the SG by means of a radiofrequency lesion (RF-SG). To evaluate the outcome of RF-SG as a therapy for different chronic pain syndromes, we reviewed 86 RF-SG procedures. Design: Medical records containing treatment information were reviewed systematically. A systematic MEDLINE literature review search on SG blockade was also performed. Results: In our clinic, 39.5% of 221 patients who received a prognostic SG block subsequently underwent RF-SG. Of these patients, 40.7% noted a more than 50% reduction of pain, 54.7% reported no effect on pain, and 4.7% showed worsening of pain. The mean follow-up interval was 52 weeks. The computer- assisted literature search resulted in 31 studies: 12 about complications and 19 about the efficacy of SG blockade. A review of these studies showed partial pain relief in 41.3% of patients, complete pain relief in 37.8%, and no pain relief in 20.9%. Conclusions: The efficacy of RF-SG blockade seems to be in line with that of other SG blockade procedures reported in the literature. Our retrospective study shows that an RF-SG block is most likely to be of benefit for patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome type 2, ischemic pain, cervicobrachialgia, or postthoracotomy pain. Clinical efficacy remains to be proven in a randomized controlled trial, however.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-168
Number of pages5
JournalClinical journal of pain
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Prognostic block
  • Radiofrequency lesion
  • Stellate ganglion

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