JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Efficacy of stellate ganglion blockade for the management of type 1 complex regional pain syndrome.

INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of stellate ganglion blockade (SGB) in patients with complex regional pain syndromes (CRPS I) of their hands.

METHODS: After IRB approval and patient informed consent, 25 subjects, with a clinical diagnosis of CRPS I of one hand as defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) criteria, had three SGB's performed at weekly intervals. Laser Doppler fluxmetric hand perfusion studies were performed on the normal and CRPS I hands pre- and post-SGB therapy. No patient was included in this study if they used tobacco products or any medication or substance that could affect sympathetic function. The appropriate parametric and nonparametric data analyses were performed and a p value <0.05 was used to reject the null hypothesis.

RESULTS: Symptom onset of CRPS I until the initiation of SGB therapy ranged between 3 to 34 weeks. Following the SGB series, patient pain relief was as follows: group I, 10/25 (40%) had complete symptom relief; group II, 9/25 (36%) had partial relief and group III, 6/25 (24%) had no relief. The duration of symptoms until SGB therapy was: group I, 4.6 +/- 1.8 weeks, group II, 11.9 +/- 1.6 weeks and group III, 35.8 +/- 27 weeks. Compared with the normal control hand, the skin perfusion in the CRPS I affected hand was greater in group I and decreased in groups II and III.

DISCUSSION: The results of our study demonstrate that an inverse relationship exists between hand perfusion and the duration of symptoms of CRPS I. On the other hand, a positive correlation exists between SGB efficacy and how soon SGB therapy is initiated. A duration of symptoms greater than 16 weeks before the initial SGB and/or a decrease in skin perfusion of 22% between the normal and affected hands adversely affects the efficacy of SGB therapy.

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