FAQ’s on Sphenopalatine Ganglion Nerve Block Injections
What is a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block?
The sphenopalatine ganglion is a cluster of nerves located within the face. These sit inside a bony cavity in the middle of the face and provide sensation to the surrounding areas. A sphenopalatine ganglion block is a procedure used to treat severe chronic cranial (head) and facial pain. There are three different methods: transnasal, transoral, and lateral.
What is the goal of the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure?
The goal of the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure is to provide the patient with relief from chronic pain of the head and/or face. Chronic pain can be debilitating and can negatively affect a patient’s quality of life. By undergoing the sphenopalatine ganglion block, a patient can return to a more normal and therefore, satisfying lifestyle.
How is the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure performed?
There are three main ways this procedure can be performed. The simplest form of the procedure, the transnasal method, is the shortest of the three and involves the use of a topical anesthetic. This method of the procedure can provide relief but is usually short-lasting and used more as a diagnostic tool. If successful in providing relief, it means that the other injections are viable treatments.
In the transnasal procedure, the patient lies on their back and the physician inserts into the nasal cavity a sterile cotton swab with an anesthetic on it and allows it to remain for approximately thirty minutes. For the procedures involving injection, the patient lies on their back with their neck stretched and head tilted slightly back. The patient is often given an intravenous sedative to help them relax during the procedure. The physician uses a cotton swab to apply a topical anesthetic to the area to be injected. With the use of a fluoroscope, the physician precisely locates the area to be injected and gently inserts a small needle into the area, after which a local anesthetic is injected into the desired area.
How long do the effects of the sphenopalatine ganglion block last?
The duration of the effects of the sphenopalatine ganglion block are dependent on which procedure is performed and how well the patient responds to the medication. For some patients, the effect may last only a few weeks to a few months; others have reported relief lasting for a year or more.
What risk or side effects are possible with the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure?
Risks and side effects of these procedures are very low although, as with any medical procedure, there is the possibility of complications. The topical approach only has one very small risk of the medication dripping into the mouth. The other approaches pose other risks including nosebleed, infection, facial numbness, allergic reaction to the anesthetic, numbness of the hard palate, and/or orthostatic hypotension (dizziness from decrease in blood pressure).
What conditions are treatable with the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure?
Conditions treatable by the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure are limited to chronic head and facial pain, often caused by trauma. This block may also be viable for patients who are suffering from TMJ, acute or cluster headaches, Sluder’s Syndrome, Vail’s Syndrome, or Gardner’s Syndrome.
How successful is the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure for the relief of pain?
Most people are expected to respond well to the sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure. However, the degree of success can vary depending on the procedure. In the transnasal procedure, the anesthetic is applied topically and so the effects will be of shorter duration than an injection. In the approaches involving injection, patients may experience relief for a year or more.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block, contact Consultants in Pain Medicine today. The practice has a Double Board Certified pain management doctor accepting over 50 insurance plans at multiple locations.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!