Stellate ganglion block appears to be effective at reducing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, according to findings from a randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The clinical trial included 108 active-duty service members with PTSD symptoms who had a PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) score of ≥32 and were on stable psychotropic medications. Patients received stellate ganglion block or sham treatment at Weeks 0 and 2. The primary end point of the study was change in mean Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAP-5) total symptom severity scores at Week 8; baseline scores were reported to be similar between the 2 groups (37.6 for the stellate ganglion block arm vs 39.8 for the sham arm).

Results showed that among patients who received stellate ganglion block (n=74), the adjusted mean CAP-5 total symptom severity score change from baseline was -12.6 points (95% CI, -15.5, -9.7 points) vs -6.1 points (95% CI, -9.8, -2.3 points) for those who received sham treatment (n=39) (P=.01).

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“The stellate ganglion is like a routing center for the nervous system and controls the impulse for fight or flight. Anesthetizing the ganglion blocks nerve impulses temporarily,” said Kristine Rae Olmsted, MSPH, of RTI, the nonprofit research institute that conducted the trial, and the study’s co-primary investigator. “We still don’t know how SGB works to improve PTSD symptoms, but now we know that it does.”

Based on their findings, the study authors believe that stellate ganglion block warrants further research as a potential adjunctive therapy for PTSD.

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