Hillsdale Hospital News

Center for Pain Management Offers Cutting-Edge Treatment to Restore Taste & Smell for Long COVID Patients

Stellate Ganglion Block Used as Treatment for Post-COVID-19 Parosmia & Dysgeusia

HILLSDALE, Mich.—The Center for Pain Management at Hillsdale Hospital is offering an innovative treatment option for patients whose taste and smell has been distorted (conditions known as dysgeusia and parosmia, respectively) as a result of prior COVID-19 infection. This treatment is not widely available, but is one of few treatments showing promise for restoring or repairing taste and smell for these individuals.

“The Center for Pain Management at Hillsdale Hospital is excited to provide Stellate Ganglion Blocks for the treatment of prolonged COVID-19 symptoms,” Andy Biegner, CRNA, and medical director of the Center for Pain Management, said. “Previously patients would have to travel significant distances to receive this treatment.”

The treatment is a Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), which is a procedure often used as a form of non-narcotic pain management care for a variety of conditions like chronic regional pain syndromes, chronic post-surgical pain, cluster headaches and migraines. The stellate ganglion is a collection of nerves at the base of the neck which affect the face and arm. In the case of dysgeusia and parosmia, part of the nervous system (known as the sympathetic nervous system) is over-active, causing a distorted sense of taste and smell. When the stellate ganglion is blocked, the sympathetic nervous system is shut down, forcing the central nervous system to reset or recalibrate the sympathetic nervous system which can relieve the symptoms of dysgeusia and parosmia. If effective, this treatment done via one injection on each side of the neck does not have to be repeated like it would be for treatment of other conditions.

“Recently, science is catching up to the various benefits of a stellate ganglion block,” Brian Videan, CRNA at the center, said. “On a personal level and professional level, having witnessed a patient with nearly immediate return of her smell after a single treatment, providing this type of life changing treatment has been extremely rewarding.”

For patients experiencing a complete loss of taste and smell or a distorted sense of taste and smell, the consequences to their health and daily life can be significant, potentially causing depression, anxiety, weight loss, malnutrition and other related health issues. Many patients with dysgeusia and/or parosmia report foods tasting of rotten meat, deterring them from eating or restricting them to only eating certain foods that may not allow for a nutritionally complete diet.

“Individuals dealing with the effects of long COVID, including long-term loss or distortion of taste and smell, often feel a sense of hopelessness due to lack of available treatment options,” Rachel Lott, chief communications officer, said. “Because this treatment is not widely available, we expect to see patients from our community, as well as those from far outside Hillsdale County who are looking for an option like this in hopes to restore their health and quality of life.”

For more information, call (517) 437-5417 or visit hillsdalehospital.com/pain.