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Sphenopalatine Nerve Block

The sphenopalatine ganglion is a triangle-shaped collection of nerves that is superficially-located within a shallow cavity in the facial bones called the pterygopalatine fossa.

A sphenopalatine nerve block is an established treatment method for acute and chronic facial and head pain. Conditions specifically responsive to a sphenopalatine nerve block include acute/chronic cluster headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, shingles of the trigeminal nerve, atypical facial pain, head/neck cancer pain, and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

If you have a documented response to administration of local anesthetic onto the sphenopalatine ganglion, you and your physician may decide to perform a neurolysis or radiofrequency ablation of the sphenopalatine ganglion for longer duration of pain and symptom relief.

How It Works

A sphenopalatine nerve block is performed with x-ray guidance to increase the accuracy and safety.

  • You will be asked to lay on your back.
  • Your cheek on the affected side will be cleaned with an antiseptic, and a sterile drape will be placed.
  • Your physician will direct a guide needle toward the intended target area under x-ray guidance.
  • A local anesthetic and a steroid (cortisone) will be administered in close proximity to the nerve to block signals from reaching the brain. The cortisone serves as an anti-inflammatory.
  • The needle is then flushed and withdrawn, and a band-aid is placed over the point of needle entry.

Risks

This procedure is safe. With any procedure, however, there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Other less common risks include bleeding, infection, or injection into blood vessels. Fortunately, serious side effects and complications are uncommon. X-ray guidance to provide visualization of the targeted structures and landmarks significantly minimizes risk.