Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block
Performed by Top Pain Management Doctors in Longview, Lufkin, Sulphur & Tyler, Texas
Pain especially in the face and head secondary to:
- Acute and cluster headaches
- Trigeminal neuralgia. (3,7)
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.(7)
- Herpes zoster. (12)
- Sluder’s neuralgia. (6)
- Paroxysmal hemicrania. (4)
- Atypical facial pain. (14)
- Head and neck cancers
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) (9)
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) (9)
- Vasomotor rhinitis
- Pre- and postoperative anesthesia in oral and maxillofacial surgery. (11)
Sphenopalatine ganglion block is a short, minimally invasive procedure that is effective at treating some acute and chronic facial and head pain.
The sphenopalatine ganglion is a parasympathetic ganglion that is superficially-located, triangularly-shaped, and no more than 5mm in size. It is located in the pterygopalatine fossa, posterior to the middle nasal turbinate, and anterior to the pterygoid canal. The sphenopalatine ganglion is covered by approximately 1- to 1.5mm-thick layer of connective tissue and mucous membrane which allows its block to be preformed either topically or by injection. (17,18,19) The sphenopalatine ganglion sends nerve fibers to the lacrimal gland, glands of the nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, palate, and upper pharynx. It “is classified as a parasympathetic ganglion because only pre-ganglionic parasympathetic axons are believed to synapse within the ganglion.” (19) Post- ganglionic sympathetic neurons as well as somatic sensory afferent branches of the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve also pass through the ganglion, though they do not terminate there.18 Nonetheless, both the postganglionic parasympathetic and sympathetic neurons and the somatic sensory afferents can be all inhibited by performing a sphenopalatine block. Procedure: There are many approaches your physician can use to perform the sphenopalatine ganglion block including the transnasal, transoral, and lateral approach. The transnasal approach is the simplest and most common technique among the three. You will be asked to lie down on your back and extend your neck into a sniffing position. Your physician will inspect your anterior nares for any visible polyps, tumors, or significant septal deviation before beginning. A small amount of 2% viscous lidocaine is instilled into the nare(s) being treated, after which you will be asked to briskly inhale. This draws the local anesthetic toward the posterior nasal pharynx, lubricating it and anesthetizing it in the process, while making the procedure more comfortable for the patient. If your physician decides to perform the sphenopalatine ganglion block topically, he or she will introduce a sterile 10-cm cotton tipped applicator dipped in the chosen anesthetic and slowly advance it along your superior border of the middle turbinate until it reaches the posterior wall of the nasopharynx.(10,16,20) The applicator is usually left in place for approximately 20-30 minutes. If your physician decides to perform the sphenopalatine ganglion block via injection your physician will anesthetize part of your cheek. Next he or she will advance a small needle under x-ray guidance through anesthetized tissue. Your physician will carefully advance the needle to the correct location, after which he or she will confirm correct positioning under fluoroscopy before injecting the anesthetic.21 No matter whether placed topically or via injection a successful block is marked by profound pain relief. For patients who have a documented response to administration of local anesthetic onto the sphenopalatine ganglion, you and your physician may decide upon performing a neurolysis or radioablation of the sphenopalatine ganglion for longer duration of pain and symptom relief. Depending on whether your physician performs this block topically or via injection this procedure may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes at most. Sometimes your physician will recommend intravenous sedation to make the procedure more comfortable. Your physician will monitor your pain and vital signs (pulse, blood pressure) after the procedure.
The risk for this procedure is very low. The most common side effects of this procedure include developing a bitter taste in your mouth from the local anesthetic potentially dripping down from the nasopharynx down into your oropharynx or developing a slight numbness in the back of the throat from the local anesthetic dripping down into your throat.19 Occasionally some patients may develop epistaxis (nose bleed) from your physician accidentally abrading your internal nare anatomy from placing of the block. Some patients may also experience slight lightheadedness that usually resolves after 20-30 minutes after the procedure. With any procedure that involves local anesthetic the theoretical risk of drug allergy and seizure (if the medication is injected into a blood vessel). Lastly with any penetration of skin and soft tissues, the risk of infection always exists. Outcomes: Sphenopalatine block is a well-established treatment modality for acute and chronic facial and head pain. Sphenopalantine Radiofrequency Ablation: Narouze et al. (2009) demonstrated that percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of the sphenopalatine ganglion is an extremely effective modality of treatment for patients with intractable chronic cluster headaches. They accessed the mean attack intensity (MAI), mean attack frequency (MAF), and pain disability index (PDI) before and after the procedure at 1-, 3-, 6-, 12-, 18-month follow up intervals in 15 patients suffering from chronic cluster headaches and found sustained statistically significant reduction in MAI, MAF, and PDI at each follow up (P
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- Morelli N, Mancuso M, Felisati G, Lozza P, Maccari A, Cafforio G, Gori S, Murri L, Guidetti D. Does sphenopalatine endoscopic ganglion block have an effect in paroxysmal hemicrania? A case report. Cephalalgia. 2009 May 5.
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- Quevedo JP, Purgavie K, Platt H, Strax TE. Complex regional pain syndrome involving the lower extremity: a report of 2 cases of sphenopalatine block as a treatment option. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Feb;86(2):335-7.
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