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Stella’s treatment is built on a new understanding of PTSD and its causes. Dr Lipov, the Chief Medical Officer at Stella, is credited with innovating the Stellate Ganglion Block ("SGB") as an intervention for trauma symptoms.
After experiencing trauma, the way our brain functions may change in dramatic ways. In some cases, we become stuck in “fight or flight” mode - which can be observed in certain types of brain scans.
It may be helpful to think about the sympathetic nervous system as being somewhat like an engine. Under normal conditions, we are in “neutral gear,” a relatively relaxed state not associated with feeling threatened. However, extreme stressors can shift and lock us into a higher gear, where we may remain for years or even decades. This state may involve “feeling constantly revved up and being unable to throttle down.” Common indicators of this altered biological state include symptoms like disrupted sleep, anger attacks, overwhelming panic, difficulties concentrating, a feeling of constantly being on “high alert”, and a strong startle response - in other words, the “hyper-arousal” cluster of post trauma symptoms.
Stella’s adaptation of SGB involves injecting a widely available, commonly used anesthesia into a bundle of nerves in the neck, just above the collarbone. The injected medication has the short-term effect of soothing and “re-setting” the overactive nerves, operating in the same temporary way as the Novocaine administered by a dentist. To return to the earlier analogy, SGB seems to manually pop a “stuck gear” back into “neutral.”
We believe in transparency of treatment outcomes. And although no medical procedure is guaranteed to work for all people, 80% of Stella’s patients report significant improvements in their PTSD symptoms.
According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs guidelines, a successful outcome in alleviating PTSD symptoms is defined as a 10 or more point drop in the DSM-IV PCL questionnaire – this is the same questionnaire as the PTSD Symptom Checker that we invite patients to take. In a sample of 327 Stella patients treated between December 2016 and February 2020, 80% experienced a 10 or more point drop. The average point drop in Stella’s patients was 28.9. Stella’s data on patient outcomes has been reviewed by an IRB and submitted to a peer reviewed journal for publication (acceptance pending).
The procedure itself takes less than 20 minutes. However, if a major improvement in the patient’s symptoms hasn’t occurred within 30 minutes of the procedure, a second application is administered. Between arrival, anesthesia, the procedure, and follow-up observation, you can expect to spend several hours at Stella on the day of your appointment.
Many patients only require a single procedure to effectively alleviate their PTSD symptoms. However, two to three procedures spread over several years is common – the longest served patient at Stella has had two procedures in a ten year timespan.
In many cases, yes. Patients who have been suffering with the emotional effects of trauma for several years may need further support from their trusted care provider to build on the procedure’s success. If you want to explore reducing any prescribed medications, we strongly advocate that you do this only through consultation with your medication prescriber. If you do not currently have therapeutic support, we recommend that you set this up prior to treatment. According to Dr. Springer, Stella’s Chief Psychologist, once the most severe biological symptoms of trauma are alleviated, many patients experience a more optimal mind state that allows for more effective psychological and therapeutic gains.
No. The Stellate Ganglion Block procedure is covered by insurance for pain procedures (depending on policy), but Stellate Ganglion Block used in the treatment of symptoms of PTSD is not yet covered by insurance. For more information, schedule a call with our Patient Care Coordinators to speak about financing options.
Yes. Stella is committed to making our treatment accessible and affordable to as many patients as possible. Stella offers a financing program through our partner, CareCredit. Stella also offers travel stipends, and a discount off future Stella treatments, if needed. For more information, schedule a call with our Patient Care Coordinators to speak about financing options.
To find out if Stella is right for you or to book a procedure, you can:
Book a free consultation with a Patient Care Coordinator
Call us now at 1-833-STELLA-NOW (866-497-9248)
Email us at care@StellaCenter.com
All conversations are in strictest confidence. You will not have to reveal any information that you do not wish to.
Treatment by Stella is a commitment to your recovery, from first contact through to the moment you feel like yourself again.
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