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Stellate ganglion block used to treat reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  1. Jeffrey Davis1,
  2. Mehmet S Ozcan2,
  3. Jay K Kamdar1 and
  4. Maria Shoaib3
  1. 1 Anesthesiology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
  2. 2 Anesthesiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  3. 3 Neurology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeffrey Davis, Anesthesiology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; jeffrey-s-davis{at}


Background We present a case report of a patient who developed severe reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, which was worsening despite typical interventional and supportive care. We administered a stellate ganglion block (SGB) and monitored the vasospasm with transcranial Doppler measurements.

Case report A 25-year-old woman was admitted with recurrent headaches and neurological symptoms, which angiography showed to be caused by diffuse, multifocal, segmental narrowing of the cerebral arteries leading to severe ischemia in multiple regions. Typical treatment was initiated with arterial verapamil followed by supportive critical care, including nimodipine, intravenous fluids, permissive hypertension, and analgesia. Vasospasm was monitored daily via transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD). After symptoms and monitoring suggested worsening vasospasm, an SGB was administered under ultrasound guidance. Block success was confirmed via pupillometry, and repeat TCD showed improved flow through the cerebral vasculature. Improvement in vascular flow was accompanied by a gradual reduction in acute neurological symptoms, with the patient reporting no headaches the following morning.

Conclusions For patients with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome who develop severe signs or symptoms despite typical treatment, sympathetic blockade may be a possible rescue therapy. This may extend to other causes of severe vasospasm as well, and further study is needed to determine if the SGB should be included in routine or rescue therapy.

  • regional anesthesia
  • autonomic nerve block
  • neurologic manifestations
  • treatment outcome

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  • Contributors JD and MSO contributed to data collection, literature review, and revised the draft paper. JKK contributed to data background literature review. MS contributed to clinical follow-up and data collection. All authors contributed to design and implementation of methods.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.