1. What is your PTSD treatment technique?
It is the stellate ganglion block (SGB). The blocking of a collection of nerves in the neck known as the stellate ganglion with an injection of a local anesthetic.
2. How does SGB work in treating PTSD?
After years of research, Dr. Lipov found that the stellate ganglion (a collection of nerves) is connected to the insular, amygdala and other cortical regions – parts of the brain largely responsible for PTSD. Applying an anesthetic to the ganglion has been shown in case reports of many patients to reverses the effects of PTSD. For more information, refer to chapter 6 (available here) of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment .
3. How is SGB applied?
A local anesthetic (the type used in epidurals during labor) is injected into the nerves in the neck.
4. How long does it take before patients experience relief from PTSD?
Approximately 30 minutes after the treatment.
5. Is FDA approval required for SGB treatment approach for PTSD?
No. The FDA has ruled that approval is not needed for this approach since SGB is a conventional procedure and uses a conventional anesthetic which was already been approved by the FDA decades ago.
6. How long does the effect of SGB treatment last in PTSD patients?
While some patients experience PTSD symptom relief after only one treatment, most receive a second treatment after a few months. After 2-3 treatments, most patients treated by Dr. Lipov achieve long-lasting symptom relief.
7. What is the level of compliance with SGB treatment among PTSD patients?
Compliance with SGB is 100% in Dr. Lipov’s practice.
8. Has SGB been used in other locations and by other doctors?
Yes. Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Naval Medical Center San Diego have treated active duty service members and veterans with SGB for PTSD.
9. Is it possible for patients with PTSD to discontinue medications after SGB treatment?
Yes. Research has been published documenting patients who were able to discontinue use of psychiatric medications following SGB treatment. For more information, the article abstract (summary) is available here.
10. Is SGB used in patients with PTSD whose condition was not associated with the military?
Yes. SGB has been successfully applied to women suffering from PTSD as a result of trauma, sexual and/or domestic abuse. In addition, SGB has been used to treat men who have experienced traumatic events outside of the military environment.
11. How long has the SGB technique been used and are the risks well-understood?
SGB has been used since 1925 as a pain management technique. The complications and side effects are well-understood. A German study from 1992 reported that in approximately 45,000 SGB procedures, no permanent complications occurred. Today SGB is conducted using advanced imaging techniques to ensure even greater safety.
12. How long does SGB’s effect last for PTSD?
The effect varies. Some patients have needed only one block and are symptom-free thereafter, while others patients have found the block effective for a few months and have required a second treatment. Patients we have monitored have had effects last for as long as 2 to 3 years and able to remain off all related medications. Similar results have been reported by other doctors. However, the reasons for such variations in effect remain unknown and are being further investigated.
13. Are there any testimonials from patients who have been treated with SGB for PTSD?
Yes, there are many. Here is a video of author Ken Scholes who was treated with Stellate Ganglion Block for PTSD before and after. Additional patient testimonials are available here: CMI Patient Profiles.