Efficacy of noninvasive stellate ganglion blockade performed using physical agent modalities in patients with sympathetic hyperactivity-associated disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Chun De Liao, Jau Yih Tsauo, Tsan-Hon Liou, Hung-Chou Chen, Chi Lun Rau

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background Stellate ganglion blockade (SGB) is mainly used to relieve symptoms of neuropathic pain in conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome and has several potential complications. Noninvasive SGB performed using physical agent modalities (PAMs), such as light irradiation and electrical stimulation, can be clinically used as an alternative to conventional invasive SGB. However, its application protocols vary and its clinical efficacy remains controversial. This study investigated the use of noninvasive SGB for managing neuropathic pain or other disorders associated with sympathetic hyperactivity. Materials and Methods We performed a comprehensive search of the following online databases: Medline, PubMed, Excerpta Medica Database, Cochrane Library Database, Ovid MEDLINE, Europe PubMed Central, EBSCOhost Research Databases, CINAHL, ProQuest Research Library, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, WorldWideScience, BIOSIS, and Google Scholar. We identified and included quasi-randomized or randomized controlled trials reporting the efficacy of SGB performed using therapeutic ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, light irradiation using low-level laser therapy, or xenon light or linearly polarized nearinfrared light irradiation near or over the stellate ganglion region in treating complex regional pain syndrome or disorders requiring sympatholytic management. The included articles were subjected to a meta-analysis and risk of bias assessment. Results Nine randomized and four quasi-randomized controlled trials were included. Eleven trials had good methodological quality with a Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) score of ≥6, whereas the remaining two trials had a PEDro score of <6. The meta-analysis results revealed that the efficacy of noninvasive SGB on 100-mm visual analog pain score is higher than that of a placebo or active control (weighted mean difference, -21.59 mm; 95% CI, -34.25, -8.94; p = 0.0008). Conclusions Noninvasive SGB performed using PAMs effectively relieves pain of various etiologies, making it a valuable addition to the contemporary pain management armamentarium. However, this evidence is limited by the potential risk of bias.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0167476
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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