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Complications and success rates of stellate ganglion blockade; blind technique vs. fluoroscopic guidance

Objective: Stellate Ganglion Blockade (SGB) is a cervical sympathetic blockade technique that has been long applied for a variety of purposes in Anesthesiology and Pain Clinics. In this study, our goal is to reveal the kind of SGB complications, their frequency and success rates of SGBs based on the application methods (blind technique vs. fluoroscopy guidance).

Material and Methods: This retrospective study was conducted in the pain management center of a university hospital using patients’ chart. Patients’ charts compilation began in January 2004 and ended in June 2014. Then, the patient charts collected for the study were divided into two groups: the ones applied with blind techniques (Group-B) and the ones applied under fluoroscopy (Group-F). Thus, 223 patients in Group-B and 197 patients in Group-F, in total, data of 420 patients were collected.

Results: Complications were seen in fourteen patients in Group-B, while twelve of them were blood aspirations due to the vertebral artery puncture. This puncture was observed in eight patients of Group- F. No statistically significant difference was observed between the groups when compared in terms of complications (P=0.311). However, two patients in blind technique group were developed pneumothorax. Block failures of 6.28% in Group-B and 1.52% in Group-F were determined when compared in terms of failure rates. This difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P=0.016).

Conclusion: Complication rates are low and success rates are considerably high, if SGB is applied by experienced hands, even if with blind method.

Author(s): Haktan Karaman