Ann Rehabil Med.  2016 Apr;40(2):244-251. 10.5535/arm.2016.40.2.244.

Sonoanatomical Change of Phrenic Nerve According to Posture During Ultrasound-Guided Stellate Ganglion Block

  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


To evaluate the risk of phrenic nerve injury during ultrasound-guided stellate ganglion block (US-SGB) according to sonoanatomy of the phrenic nerve, and determine a safer posture for needle insertion by assessing its relationship with surrounding structure according to positional change.
Twenty-nine healthy volunteers were recruited and underwent ultrasound in two postures, i.e., supine position with the neck extension and head rotation, and lateral decubitus position. The transducer was placed at the anterior tubercle of the C6 level to identify phrenic nerve. The cross-sectional area (CSA), depth from skin, distance between phrenic nerve and anterior tubercle of C6 transverse process, and the angle formed by anterior tubercle, posterior tubercle and phrenic nerve were measured.
The phrenic nerve was clearly identified in the intermuscular fascia layer between the anterior scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The distance between the phrenic nerve and anterior tubercle was 10.33±3.20 mm with the supine position and 9.20±3.31 mm with the lateral decubitus position, respectively. The mean CSA and skin depth of phrenic nerve were not statistically different between the two positions. The angle with the supine position was 48.37°±27.43°, and 58.89°±30.02° with the lateral decubitus position. The difference of angle between the two positions was statistically significant.
Ultrasound is a useful tool for assessing the phrenic nerve and its anatomical relation with other cervical structures. In addition, lateral decubitus position seems to be safer by providing wider angle for needle insertion than the supine position in US-SGB.


Stellate ganglion; Phrenic nerve; Ultrasound; Posture
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