Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia
Home | About us | Editorial Board | Search | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Submission | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact | Login 
Users online: 952 Small font size Default font size Increase font size Print this article Email this article Bookmark this page


    Advanced search

    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Materials and Me...
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded280    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal


Table of Contents
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 238-242
Comparison of left internal mammary artery diameter before and after left stellate ganglion block

Department of Cardiac Anaesthesiology, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission16-Jan-2013
Date of Acceptance04-Jul-2013
Date of Web Publication1-Oct-2013


Aims and Objectives: Left internal mammary artery (LIMA) is the preferred arterial conduit for coronary artery bypass grafting. Various pharmacological agents are known to increase LIMA blood flow. Sympathetic blockade mediated by stellate ganglion block (SGB) has been used to provide vasodilatation in the upper extremities and in the treatment of refractory angina. We investigated effect of left stellate ganglion block (LSGB) on LIMA diameter. Materials and Methods: In 30 diagnosed patients of triple vessel coronary artery disease, LSGB was given under fluoroscopic guidance by C6 transverse process approach using 10 ml of 1% lignocaine. LIMA diameter was measured before and 20 min after the block at 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th and at 5 th rib level. Heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were recorded before and 20 min after the block. Results: The LIMA diameter increased significantly at 2 nd (2.56 ± 0.39 vs. 2.99 ± 0.40; P < 0.0001), 3 rd (2.46 ± 0.38 vs. 2.90 ± 0.40; P < 0.0001), 4 th (2.39 ± 0.38 vs. 2.84 ± 0.41; P < 0.0001) and 5 th rib level (2.35 ± 0.38 vs. 2.78 ± 0.40; P < 0.0001). No statistically significant change occurred in HR, SBP, DBP and MAP before and 20 min after LSGB. Conclusions: LSGB significantly increased the LIMA diameter. The LSGB can be considered as an alternative to topical and systemic vasodilators for reducing vasospasm of LIMA.

Keywords: Left internal mammary artery; Left stellate ganglion block; Quantitative coronary analysis

How to cite this article:
Gopal D, Singh NG, Jagadeesh A M, Ture A, Thimmarayappa A. Comparison of left internal mammary artery diameter before and after left stellate ganglion block. Ann Card Anaesth 2013;16:238-42

How to cite this URL:
Gopal D, Singh NG, Jagadeesh A M, Ture A, Thimmarayappa A. Comparison of left internal mammary artery diameter before and after left stellate ganglion block. Ann Card Anaesth [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Dec 1];16:238-42. Available from:

This article is accompanied by an invited commentary by Dr. Mukul Chandra Kapoor

   Introduction Top

The internal mammary artery (IMA) is the preferred graft for myocardial revascularization because of its superiority over venous grafts owing to long-term patency, lower mortality rates and improved post-operative outcomes. [1],[2],[3] However, conduit spasm is a recognized complication of coronary artery bypass surgery mainly affecting arterial conduits, a major concern that can lead to acute myocardial ischemia and may contribute to reduced graft patency. [4] The mechanism of graft spasm remains unclear. Topical application or systematic administration of many pharmacological agents has been shown to reverse or prevent graft spasm, [5],[6],[7] but side-effects are reported with the use of these agents. Regional techniques like thoracic epidural anesthesia have shown to increase IMA blood flow by sympathetic inhibition. [8] Stellate ganglion block (SGB) with local anesthetics has been widely used to provide pain relief, to treat vascular spastic disorders of upper limb, chronic pain conditions and treatment of refractory angina. [9],[10],[11],[12] The SGB has also been used for increasing radial artery (RA) blood flow and preventing RA spasm by sympathetic blockade in coronary artery bypass surgery. [13] Although the effects of topical and systemic vasodilators on blood flow in the IMA have been investigated, there is limited literature regarding the impact of SGB on IMA blood flow. We investigated the effects of left stellate ganglion block (LSGB) on left internal mammary artery (LIMA) diameter.

   Materials and Methods Top

The study was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee. After explaining the complications associated with LSGB procedure, informed consent was obtained from patients undergoing coronary angiography (CAG). Before starting the procedure, intravenous access was secured and monitoring was started with electrocardiogram, invasive blood pressure and pulse oximetry in all the patients. Patients with existing coagulopathy, recent myocardial infarction, unstable angina, pathological bradycardia (heart rate [HR] < 60 beats/min), glaucoma, decreased ventricular function (ejection fraction < 40%), left main coronary artery disease, emergency CAG, pre-existing contralateral phrenic nerve palsy and bloody tap were excluded. LSGB was given to patients who were found suitable for elective coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and where selective LIMA angiography is routinely done. Overall 30 patients were studied. In these patients, selective LIMA angiogram was repeated 20 min after LSGB.

Study design

In catheterization laboratory CAG was performed by the standard femoral approach. Selective injection of the native coronary arteries was performed by diagnostic Judkin 6F catheters. Patients showing significant coronary artery disease on CAG and suitable for CABG, selective angiography of LIMA was performed using 6F IMA catheter. After obtaining the baseline LIMA angiogram, LSGB was given by C6 transverse process approach under fluoroscopic guidance. All angiographies were performed with manual injection using non-ionic contrast medium.

Technique: Fluoroscopic C6 transverse process approach for LSGB

Patients were positioned supine with a thin pillow under head, the neck was slightly extended, the head was rotated slightly to the right side and the patients were asked to open mouth slightly. The needle insertion site was located with the finger between the trachea and the carotid sheath. The C6 vertebral body level was identified at the level of the cricoid cartilage. The anterior tubercle of the C6 vertebra, Chassaignac tubercle (carotid tubercle) was then identified after retracting the carotid sheath and sternocleidomastoid muscle laterally. Pressure was applied with the palpating finger to reduce the distance between the skin and tubercle and to depress the dome of the pleura to reduce risk of pneumothorax. The needle was inserted towards the Chassaignac tubercle and after contact; it was redirected and advanced inferomedially towards the body of C6. After touching the body of C6, the needle was withdrawn 1-2 mm to bring it out of the longus colli muscle while still staying within the pre-vertebral fascia. After negative aspiration, 1-2 ml of non-ionic contrast agent was injected and spread was visualized under fluoroscopy. After confirming the subfascial location of the injection, the local anesthetic was administered. A total volume of 10 ml of 1% lignocaine was injected. [14],[15] Correct placement of the needle and injection of lignocaine was confirmed by prompt increase in the skin temperature of the ipsilateral arm, nasal stuffiness, hoarseness of voice and the onset of Horner's syndrome. The same anesthesiologist performed all the blocks. The systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and HR were monitored during the procedure and up to 2 hours after the LSGB. LIMA diameter was measured at the level of 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th and 5 th rib by quantitative coronary analysis (QCA). The radiographer who measured the LIMA diameter was blinded. In all patients, QCA was performed with Philips Alura FD 10 software connected to a digital cardiac imaging system (DCI, Philips, The Netherlands). After selecting a well opacified image, calibration was performed using the diagnostic IMA catheter as a reference diameter. Defined length of LIMA was then selected at 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th , and 5 th rib level and its minimum luminal diameter, maximum luminal diameter and mean diameter were calculated before and after the LSGB. Mean diameter was chosen for the study.

Statistical analysis

Serial changes in LIMA diameters were compared by means of Student's t-test for paired data at the level of 2 nd rib, 3 rd rib, 4 th rib and 5 th rib. A two-tailed probability level of less than 0.05 was considered significant. All results were expressed as mean ± standard deviation. Statistical analysis was performed using MedCalc software version 12.2.1.

   Results Top

Transient short lived and minor side effects such as Horner's syndrome, hoarseness of voice, dryness of mouth, nasal stuffiness were noted, which were the indicators of successful block. None of the patients had any serious complication during or after the procedure. The hemodynamic parameters - HR, SBP, DBP and MAP measured before and 20 min after LSGB, during selective angiography were similar between the groups and there was no significant difference (P > 0.05) [Table 1].
Table 1: Hemodynamic parameters

Click here to view

LIMA diameter

LSGB had a significant effect on diameter of LIMA. The LIMA diameter increased significantly 20 min after LSGB. The increase in LIMA diameter at the level of 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th , and 5 th rib is shown in [Table 2] and [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Left internal mammary artery diameter before and after left stellate ganglion block at different rib levels

Click here to view
Table 2: Quantitative coronary analysis for LIMA diameter

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

The arterial grafts are the preferred conduits for myocardial revascularization. [1] Among arterial grafts LIMA and RA are most commonly used for revascularization. The main drawback of arterial conduits is perioperative graft spasm; however, its precise mechanisms are not clear. The possible explanations described in the pathogenesis of graft spasm are endothelial injury, local manipulation of the artery, temperature changes, and release of vasoconstrictor substances. [1] Native coronary artery spasm in early post-operative period are due to α-adrenergic activity, endothelium dysfunction, increased blood pH, systemic hypothermia, local manipulation of the artery, increased platelet activity, release of vasoconstrictor substances, increased plasma vasopressin levels, histamine release and local increase in potassium levels. [4]

The RA is more prone to spasm as its medial layer thickness is greater than that of LIMA. [5],[16] Various drugs such as calcium channel blockers, papavarine, nitrates, etc., have been used to reduce arterial vasospasm. [5],[6],[7] SGB may also play an important role in management of LIMA spasm. The stellate ganglion contributes fibers to the nerve bundles located along the internal thoracic (mammary) artery. [17] The presence of nerve fibers along the internal thoracic artery may have clinical significance in surgical treatment of myocardial ischemia. [14] Studies have shown that human IMA and RA contain mainly α1-adrenoceptors and the α-adrenoceptor agonist-induced contraction is mainly mediated by activation of the α1-adrenoceptors. [18],[19],[20] Thus, sympathetic blockade of these nerves is the rationale for treatment of perioperative as well as post-operative spasm. The human IMAs as well as RAs express predominantly α1-subtype adrenergic receptors; therefore, α-adrenergic receptor agonist-induced contraction is mainly mediated by activation of the α1-adrenergic receptors. [18] Investigators have also identified and characterized the α1-adrenergic receptors in human IMA by radio-ligand binding analysis. [19],[20]

The various methods to confirm successful LSGB are expression of Horner's syndrome, nasal stuffiness and increases in skin temperature and perfusion index. [21] Doppler ultrasound-guided, computerized tomography guided and fluoroscopy guided SGB are additional methods available to enhance the accuracy of the sympathetic block on lower cervical and upper thoracic segments. [22],[23] We observed increase in skin temperature of ipsilateral hand, change of voice and nasal stuffiness in all our patients following LSGB. Serious complications associated with a SGB include intra-arterial or intravenous injection, epidural spread of local anesthetic and pneumothorax. However, properly performed SGB is safe and an easy procedure and the complications are rare with an incidence of 0.17%. [11] Fluoroscopy guided SGB is known to enhance safety. [24] In this study, using fluoroscopy guided SGB; none of the patient had any serious complication during or after the procedure. The study by Yildirim et al., [13] showed that pre-emptive SGB increased RA blood flow and prevented RA spasm, which improved the surgical outcome in patients undergoing CABG. The authors showed significant increase in RA blood flow using a pulsed-wave Doppler ultrasound blood flow-meter. The authors suggested that increase in RA blood flow could be due to cervical sympathetic block. In our study, LIMA diameter was measured by QCA and there was an increase in LIMA diameter after LSGB, which could be mediated by α1-adrenergic receptor sympathetic blockade. Although we did not measure the blood flow, the flow through LIMA should have increased as the flow is directly proportional to radius (radius (r) = diameter/2) (Hagen Poiseiulle law). Onan et al., [8] showed that thoracic epidural anesthesia increases LIMA blood flow by inhibiting sympathetic stimulation, which might occur through expression of some endothelial vasoactive mediators that increase nitric oxide. They performed immunohistochemical study on LIMA specimen to evaluate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inducible nitric oxide synthase (i-NOS) and adenosine A2B receptors. They concluded that increased expressions of VEGF, i-NOS and adenosine A2B-receptor will increase nitric oxide expression and hence increase in LIMA blood flow.

Various pharmacological agents (such us nitrates, calcium channel blockers and papavarine), which are used for prevention of LIMA spasm have limitations. [25] Chester et al., have described long-term benefits of SGB (relief for about 5 weeks) in severe chronic refractory angina. [10] Furthermore, SGB have been used for long-term pain relief in chronic pain conditions such as chronic regional pain syndrome [1],[2] and phantom limb pain. [26],[27] We did not measure duration of LSGB but because of its application in chronic pain conditions we can assume that action of LSGB on LIMA will last for long duration. However, further studies are needed to confirm duration of action of SGB on LIMA. In our study, patients had stable hemodynamics after LSGB. Other studies have shown that LSGB has only small effect on the left ventricular function in awake dogs before and after induction of heart failure and in patients without cardiovascular disease. [28],[29] Koyama et al., [30] also reported that SGB suppressed cardiac sympathetic function without affecting blood pressure.

The limitations of the study are actual LIMA blood flow was not measured. The assessment of the nitric oxide expression on the LIMA and the examination of α-adrenergic receptors and its subtypes were not done. We did not record the duration of action of SGB.

In conclusion, LSGB increases LIMA diameter by sympathetic blockade. Hence, LSGB may be useful in prevention of perioperative LIMA vasospasm. LSGB is expected to increase the LIMA flow, its patency and thus may improve surgical outcome. However, further studies are required on a larger group to quantify increases in LIMA flow and the duration of action with LSGB and to compare effects of LSGB with other pharmacological modalities.

   Acknowledgment Top

The authors would like to acknowledge the help provided by Dr. C.N Manjunath, Director and HOD, Dr. B.C Srinivas and Dr. Prabhavati, Professors, dept. of Cardiology, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bangalore.

   References Top

1.He GW. Arterial grafts for coronary surgery: Vasospasm and patency rate. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2001;121:431-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Boylan MJ, Lytle BW, Loop FD, Taylor PC, Borsh JA, Goormastic M, et al. Surgical treatment of isolated left anterior descending coronary stenosis. Comparison of left internal mammary artery and venous autograft at 18 to 20 years of follow-up. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1994;107:657-62.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Loop FD, Lytle BW, Cosgrove DM, Stewart RW, Goormastic M, Williams GW, et al. Influence of the internal-mammary-artery graft on 10-year survival and other cardiac events. N Engl J Med 1986;314:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Sarabu MR, McClung JA, Fass A, Reed GE. Early postoperative spasm in left internal mammary artery bypass grafts. Ann Thorac Surg 1987;44:199-200.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.He GW, Yang CQ. Comparative study on calcium channel antagonists in the human radial artery: Clinical implications. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2000;119:94-100.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Salmenperä M, Levy JH. The in vitro effects of phosphodiesterase inhibitors on the human internal mammary artery. Anesth Analg 1996;82:954-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Cable DG, Caccitolo JA, Pearson PJ, O'Brien T, Mullany CJ, Daly RC, et al. New approaches to prevention and treatment of radial artery graft vasospasm. Circulation 1998;98:II15-21.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Onan IS, Onan B, Korkmaz AA, Oklu L, Kilickan L, Gonca S, et al. Effects of thoracic epidural anesthesia on flow and endothelium of internal thoracic artery in coronary artery bypass graft surgery. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth 2011;25:1063-70.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Kadowaki MH, Levett JM. Sympathectomy in the treatment of angina and arrhythmias. Ann Thorac Surg 1986;41:572-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Chester M, Hammond C, Leach A. Long-term benefits of stellate ganglion block in severe chronic refractory angina. Pain 2000;87:103-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Marples IL, Atkinson RE. Stellate ganglion block. Pain Rev 2001;8:3-11.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Buckley FP. Regional anesthesia with local anesthetics. In: Loeser JD editor. Bonica's Management of Pain. 3 rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2001. p. 1893-952.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Yildirim V, Akay HT, Bingol H, Bolcal C, Iyem H, Doðanci S, et al . Pre-emptive stellate ganglion block increases the patency of radial artery grafts in coronary artery bypass surgery. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 2007;51:434-40.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Jadon A. Revalidation of a modified and safe approach of stellate ganglion block. Indian J Anaesth 2011;55:52-6.  Back to cited text no. 14
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
15.Carron H, Litwiller R. Stellate ganglion block. Curr Res Anesth Analg 1975;54:567-70.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.He GW. Arterial grafts for coronary artery bypass grafting: Biological characteristics, functional classification, and clinical choice. Ann Thorac Surg 1999;67:277-84.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Pearson AA, Sauter RW. The internal thoracic (mammary) nerve. Thorax 1971;26:354-6.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.He GW, Shaw J, Hughes CF, Yang CQ, Thomson DS, McCaughan B, et al. Predominant alpha 1-adrenoceptor-mediated contraction in the human internal mammary artery. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993;21:256-63.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Bevilacqua M, Vago T, Monopoli A, Baldi G, Forlani A, Antona C, et al. Alpha 1 adrenoceptor subtype mediates noradrenaline induced contraction of the human internal mammary artery: Radioligand and functional studies. Cardiovasc Res 1991;25:290-4.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Weinstein JS, Grossman W, Weintraub RM, Thurer RL, Johnson RG, Morgan KG. Differences in alpha-adrenergic responsiveness between human internal mammary arteries and saphenous veins. Circulation 1989;79:1264-70.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Carron H. Advances in Neurology. Vol. 4. New York: Raven Press; 1974. p. 485-90.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Wong W. Spinal nerve blocks. In: Williams AL, Murtagh FR, editors. Handbook of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Spine Procedures. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2002. p. 20-40.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Erickson SJ, Hogan QH. CT-guided injection of the stellate ganglion: Description of technique and efficacy of sympathetic blockade. Radiology 1993;188:707-9.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Elias M. The anterior approach for thoracic sympathetic ganglion block using a curved needle. Pain Clin 2000;12:17-24.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Zabeeda D, Medalion B, Jackobshvilli S, Ezra S, Schachner A, Cohen AJ. Comparison of systemic vasodilators: Effects on flow in internal mammary and radial arteries. Ann Thorac Surg 2001;71:138-41.  Back to cited text no. 25
26.Price DD, Long S, Wilsey B, Rafii A. Analysis of peak magnitude and duration of analgesia produced by local anesthetics injected into sympathetic ganglia of complex regional pain syndrome patients. Clin J Pain 1998;14:216-26.  Back to cited text no. 26
27.Cepeda MS, Carr DB, Lau J. Local anesthetic sympathetic blockade for complex regional pain syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005;(4):CD004598.  Back to cited text no. 27
28.Müllenheim J, Preckel B, Obal D, Heiderhoff M, Hoff J, Thämer V, et al. Left stellate ganglion block has only small effects on left ventricular function in awake dogs before and after induction of heart failure. Anesth Analg 2000;91:787-92.  Back to cited text no. 28
29.Lobato EB, Kern KB, Paige GB, Brown M, Sulek CA. Differential effects of right versus left stellate ganglion block on left ventricular function in humans: An echocardiographic analysis. J Clin Anesth 2000;12:315-8.  Back to cited text no. 29
30.Koyama S, Sato N, Nagashima K, Aizawa H, Kawamura Y, Hasebe N, et al. Effects of right stellate ganglion block on the autonomic nervous function of the heart: A study using the head-up tilt test. Circ J 2002;66:645-8.  Back to cited text no. 30

Correspondence Address:
Divya Gopal
Department of Cardiac Anesthesia, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, 9th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore - 560 069, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-9784.119161

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Resilience of the Internal Mammary Artery to Atherogenesis: Shifting From Risk to Resistance to Address Unmet Needs
Simon Kraler, Peter Libby, Paul C. Evans, Alexander Akhmedov, Martin O. Schmiady, Michael Reinehr, Giovanni G. Camici, Thomas F. Lüscher
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, & Vascular Biology. 2021; 41(8): 2237
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Co-Culture of Primary Human Coronary Artery and Internal Thoracic Artery Endothelial Cells Results in Mutually Beneficial Paracrine Interactions
Daria Shishkova, Victoria Markova, Maxim Sinitsky, Anna Tsepokina, Alexey Frolov, Nikita Zagorodnikov, Leo Bogdanov, Anton Kutikhin
International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(21): 8032
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Combined effect of left stellate ganglion blockade and topical administration of papaverine on left internal thoracic artery blood flow in patients undergoing coronary revascularization
Roshith Chandran, Rupa Sreedhar, Shrinivas Gadhinglajkar, Prashantkumar Dash, Jayakumar Karunakaran, Vivek Pillai
Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia. 2020; 23(2): 170
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 The human costal cartilage: Anatomical and radiological study of macro-vascularization and micro-vascularization and its clinical relevance regarding vascularized chondrocostal free flap surgery
Jérémy Hardy, Sacha Chrosciany, Jean-Philippe Bernard, Christian Mabit, Pierre-Sylvain Marcheix
Annals of Anatomy - Anatomischer Anzeiger. 2020; 232: 151581
[Pubmed] | [DOI]