Utilizing computed tomography (CT) guidance, researchers have found that performing a minimally invasive anesthetic injection into the stellate ganglia may help address parosmia due to COVID-19, according to study results that will be presented at the annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference next week.
One of the more commonly known symptoms of COVID-19 is an altered sense of smell, which may linger for months and possibly years among those with Long COVID. However, an emerging computed tomography (CT)-guided and minimally invasive procedure may provide some relief from this condition referred to as parosmia.
In a recent study, which will be presented next week at annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference in Chicago, researchers assessed the use of a CT-guided stellate ganglion block to stimulate the regional autonomic nervous system. The cohort was comprised of 54 patients referred from an ear, nose, and throat specialist with at least six months of post-COVID parosmia that failed topical and pharmaceutical treatments.
In follow-up data of the 10-minute minimally invasive procedure for 37 patients, 22 patients had improved symptoms one week after the stellate ganglion injection with 18 of those patients reporting significant improvement at one month, according to the researchers. They also noted a mean improvement of 49 percent in parosmia symptoms at three months.
"The initial patient had a tremendously positive outcome, almost immediately, with continued improvement to the point of symptom resolution at four weeks," noted Adam C. Zoga, M.D., M.B.A., an associate professor of radiology and vice chair for clinical practice at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "We have been surprised at some outcomes, including near 100% resolution of phantosmia in some patients, throughout the trial."
The study authors noted that 26 patients in the cohort returned for a contralateral injection approximately six weeks after the first stellate ganglion injection and conceded that it was not effective for those who reported no symptom relief from the first injection.
However, Dr. Zoga pointed out that 86 percent of patients who did respond to the first injections received additional symptom relief with the contralateral injection.