Newswise — RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— In an effort to better treat posttraumatic stress disorder among U.S. service members, RTI International is leading a study on a medical procedure, called Stellate Ganglion Block, that offers the potential for fast-acting symptom relief. It will be conducted at three large military treatment facilities where the Stellate Ganglion Block procedure is occasionally used to treat PTSD symptoms.

The three-year study will be a randomized, controlled trial to test and characterize the efficacy and acceptability of Stellate Ganglion Block for the treatment of PTSD symptoms. This research is funded by a grant of over two million dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Medical Research and Development Program under Award No. W81XWH-15-2-0015.

"There is a critical need to address PTSD among service members and provide evidence-based effective treatments," said Bradford Walters, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at RTI and principal investigator of the project. "Stellate Ganglion Block has shown great promise in effectively treating PTSD in a few case reports and series, but to date, no rigorous, randomized, controlled trials have been reported in the literature."

Stellate Ganglion Block involves injecting an anesthetic into nerve tissues at the base of the neck, in this case to give relief to patients with PTSD symptoms.

To assess the procedure's efficacy and acceptability, researchers will also conduct a qualitative study.

"If our study shows that the procedure delivers positive results and is acceptable for service members, providers, and families, Stellate Ganglion Block will represent a new treatment option for PTSD with the potential for near-immediate relief of symptoms," said Kristine L. Rae Olmsted, research epidemiologist at RTI and co-investigator of the project.