The gasserian ganglion block is a safe medical procedure, but as with any procedure it has risks, as well as benefits. To minimize the chance of complications, we ask that our patients follow a few simple guidelines:
- Do not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to the procedure. An exception is always made for routine scheduled medication, which can be taken with a sip of water.
- We ask that a responsible, adult driver accompany our patients to and from the Surgical Center where this block is performed. Pain Management physicians, or a nurse in the Surgical Center may offer a small dose of relaxing medication prior to the procedure, which could impair your driving ability.
- Plan on spending approximately 90 minutes in the Surgical Center. This includes time for registration, preparation, and performance of the procedure, as well as for a post-procedure observation period.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM THIS PROCEDURE?
This is usually a diagnostic procedure that allows us to pinpoint more accurately, the location and origin of a patient’s pain syndrome. Sometimes repeated gasserian ganglion blocks can be used to decrease certain types of facial pain syndromes. In general, nerve-killing procedures are not performed or recommended except in certain instances of patients with cancer pain. In general, local anesthetic is used to block the nerves that go to your pain. You might have some numbness of your face and gums, and decreased ability to chew. This might last between six to 12 hours. When the numbness resolves, your pain may return, or you may have pain control that extends beyond the duration of the local anesthetic. It will be important for you to tell your pain management doctor about the extent and duration of your pain control, following the block.
WHAT POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS MIGHT I SEE?
In general, the most frequent complication include facial swelling and/or bruising because of the proximity of blood vessels to the gasserian ganglion. This should be treated with ice and elevation, should it occur. In addition, other nerves are adjacent to the gasserian ganglion and can, in very rare circumstances, develop weakness from the local anesthetic medication. In general, this would be noticed in the recovery room. However, if you had difficulty with breathing or swallowing following the procedure, we would want you to inform one of the recovery room nurses or physicians.
Sometimes, due to various circumstances, and despite the use of our real-time digital x-ray video machines, we are unable to place the medications precisely in the appropriate bodily spaces.
Finally, while most patients get pain relief, in rare instances there is an aggravation of the current pain symptoms. This is likely caused by the facial swelling or bruising as previously stated, and can possibly last for several days.