See answers to the most frequently asked questions about Stella and its innovative treatments such as the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB).
What is PTSD ? What are the typical symptoms?
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can manifest through various symptoms that can be categorised into four main clusters. These symptoms typically arise after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and persist for an extended period. The symptoms of PTSD include:

1. Intrusive Symptoms:

  • Distressing and intrusive memories or flashbacks of the traumatic event.
  • Nightmares related to the traumatic experience.
  • Intense psychological distress or physiological reactions triggered by reminders of the event.
  • Disturbances in thought patterns or difficulty remembering specific aspects of the traumatic event.

2. Avoidance Symptoms:

  • Avoiding activities, places, or people that remind the individual of the traumatic event.
  • Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Feelings of detachment from others and emotional numbing.

3. Negative Alterations in Mood and Cognition:

  • Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., sadness, guilt, shame).
  • Diminished interest in activities once found pleasurable.
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions.
  • Negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world.
  • Memory problems or difficulty concentrating.

4. Hyperarousal Symptoms:

  • Hypervigilance or an exaggerated startle response.
  • Feelings of constant tension or irritability.
  • Difficulty sleeping or maintaining concentration.
  • Outbursts of anger or aggression.

It is important to note that individuals with PTSD may not experience all of these symptoms, and the severity and duration can vary from person to person. Complete your online Quiz to find out more about your PTSD severity. Click here <link to quiz> to complete the PCL-5 questionnaire which will produce a score out of 80. More about the PCL-5 is explained ​​here

What is the PCL-5 ? Is it the same as the symptom quiz?
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Click ​​here to learn more about the PCL-5

Stella patients are asked to complete questionnaires before and following the treatment to assess any clinical significant change in the symptoms. This will  be at various intervals, e.g. Day 7 and Day 30 to assess any meaningful change.

While we recognise that the questionnaires may be framed as if they pertain to a specific occurrence or event in your life. In this instance, we advise responding with a broader perspective encompassing your overall symptoms and their potential influence on quality of life.

Can the Stellate Ganglion Block treat anxiety?
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Click here to read more about the latest research in relation to anxiety.

Can Stella treat Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)?
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DSR, Stella's SGB procedure has shown efficacy for a wide range of traumas. Many of our patients have experienced multiple traumas over their life, including early childhood trauma. In fact, it is more rare to treat a patient with a single traumatic exposure, as opposed to an individual who has suffered from two or more different forms of trauma.Because Stella treats a large number of veterans and first responders, a significant number of our patients have had high levels of cumulative, multi-layered trauma. Our research on the biggest sample to date of patients treated with SGB for trauma shows that regardless of the source of trauma, Stella's DSR procedure shows good outcomes for most patients regardless of the type of trauma and when it occurred.
In other words, we have seen great outcomes both with patients whose trauma was sustained during their early childhood and patients with more recent forms of trauma. While individual outcomes vary, there is reason to hope that Treatment by Stella can bring relief to suffering.

What Kind of trauma has Stella treated ?
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SGB is an injection of a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion, a nerve bundle in the neck connected to the fight or flight system, to help people feel calm again in their own bodies.

This data is obtained from the Australian retrospective study Efficacy-of-Right-Sided-Cervical-Sympathetic-Block-in-Treating-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder-in-Australian-Cohorts-A-Retrospective-Analysis published in the Research and Practice in Anesthesiology. Paul Verrills, Eugene Lipov, Robert Wright, Zubin Sethi - September 25th 2023. https://openventio.org/wp-content/uploads/Efficacy-of-Right-Sided-Cervical-Sympathetic-Block-in-Treating-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder-in-Australian-Cohorts-A-Retrospective-Analysis-RPAOJ-7-136.pdf

What services is the Stella centre providing?
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The Stella Centre provides coordination, care and support throughout the treatment process. During a free scheduled consultation, the care team will share information about the treatment, check eligibility,  information on what to expect, explain the associated risks, offer suitable treatment locations, discuss financing options, and coordinate with the Stella provider your treatment date. 

Following your consultation you will receive an email that includes:

  • Information about the treatment
  • Scientific publications if requested
  • Cost and locations
  • Referral - who should your referral be made out to and what it should contain depending on optimal location
  • Next steps if wanting to proceed with booking your procedure and follow up processes

Our clinical team uses validated measures to gauge your symptoms. These measures may include the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5) for symptoms of PTSD/ emotional trauma, the Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression, and the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Stella patients are asked to complete questionnaires before and after the treatment to assess any clinical significant change in the symptoms.

While we recognise that the questionnaires may be framed as if they pertain to a specific occurrence or event in your life. In this instance, we advise responding with a broader perspective encompassing your overall symptoms and their potential influence on quality of life.

To initiate the process, we kindly request you to engage with our Patient Care Coordinator.

Schedule Your Complimentary Consultation Here
Referral requirements
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Do I need a doctor’s referral ?

Yes , you need a medical practitioner to write a referral to our Stella provider. In order to obtain a referral to the suitable Stella provider - you will need to have a consultation with us first to determine the suitable specialists. In some locations, we may have few options available and taking into account your private health insurance  insurance status.

Can a psychologist or counsellor refer me?

Many of our patients found out about the Stellate Ganglion Block and Stella centre via their mental health representative. However, a GP or psychiatrist referral is still required inorder to get treated. To obtain the “correct” referral, you will need to speak with us to determine who the referral needs to be addressed to. Our providers are not published on our website.

Schedule Your Complimentary Consultation Here
Do I need to have a mental health provider in order to receive the SGB treatment offered by Stella Centre?
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At Stella, we have seen that patients who receive comprehensive care that includes biological treatments and insight-oriented talk therapy receive optimal benefits. For this reason, we strongly recommend a treatment plan that combines both biological and psychological care. Click here (Getting better outcomes with talk therapy) to watch our Chief Psychologist Dr Shauna Springer discuss this topic.
Ongoing or concurrent Mental health support is strongly recommended for patients who receive the Dual Sympathetic Reset/ Stella's Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Treatment  - the clinical team will assess patients for this criteria. In addition, we collaborate with many independent mental health providers and can offer a referral to a therapist who works with us to help our patients get the best outcomes possible.
What you will need is a referral from your GP or Psychiatrist to receive the SGB treatment - our patient care team will discuss this with you and once you've been prescreened - we will provide a referral request detailing what we need and why from your doctor to write the referral.

What is the Stellate ganglion block and is it different from the Dual sympathetic reset?
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The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is a medical procedure that involves the injection of a local anaesthetic into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves located in the neck. Historically, it has been and still is used to diagnose and treat various conditions, including upper limb pain, CRPS, other chronic pain and regional circulatory disorders.

This is a procedure that has now been studied and utilised as a potential treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with the aim of modulating the sympathetic nervous system. By doing so, it is believed to potentially alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD, such as hyperarousal, anxiety, and flashbacks. Link to Dr Lipov video.

The effectiveness of SGB for PTSD is still being researched heavily- link here to studies being conducted by Stella Centre.  Some studies have already shown promising results in reducing PTSD symptoms especially when first line and second line treatments have failed to improve a patient's quality of life. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and discuss the potential risks and benefits of SGB as a treatment option for PTSD.

The term "Dual Sympathetic Reset" is used to describe Stella’s  unique approach and specific protocol involving the Stellate Ganglion Block for PTSD

Where can I access scientific publications to learn more about this treatment?
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The effectiveness of SGB for PTSD is still being researched extensively. Some studies have already shown promising results in reducing PTSD symptoms especially when first line and second line treatments have failed to improve a patient's quality of life. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and discuss the potential risks and benefits of SGB as a treatment option for PTSD.

What kind of doctors perform Stella’s Dual Sympathetic Reset and what image guidance do they use?

Stella providers: These medical practitioners are typically specialists, either in pain management or interventional radiology.

Image guidance: There are three types of image guided techniques that doctors will utilise to perform the SGB.

In Australia, we have medical practitioners using Ultrasound guidance, CT or Fluoroscopy.  The most popular image guided techniques utilised in Australia are CT and fluoroscopy.  You can access educational videos if you want to learn more about these techniques:

How long does the treatment last?
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Each human body is unique, and each person's experience of trauma is distinct. The efficacy of SGB (Stellate Ganglion Block) exhibits significant individual variability among patients, with the relief of symptoms differing slightly from one individual to another. Considering the comprehensive scope of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, which outlines a staggering 636,000 possible combinations of symptoms leading to a PTSD diagnosis, it becomes evident that patients can manifest a wide array of symptoms. Additionally, factors such as age, gender, genetics, and the duration of symptom manifestation further contribute to the diverse presentation of trauma-related conditions in individuals.

In light of this intricate interplay, the duration of SGB's effectiveness varies, influencing how long a positive response is maintained. Some patients may find the need for a "top-up" or a repeat treatment, particularly when exposed to stressful environments that can trigger symptoms, necessitating ongoing care to address evolving needs.

Is the procedure administered with Sedation?
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Some Stella providers offer only in- theatre /sedated procedures. This means you need to fast 6 hours prior to admission time allocated. No food, coffee, chewing gum or cigarettes.

When you are sedated, there will be a sedation fee directly billed and paid by a separate  specialist - the anaesthetists who are responsible  for your sedation separate from the stella specialists. 

It's so  important to discuss the option of sedation during your consultation with our care team.  Some stella providers are offering unsedated procedures that do not require hospital admission and admission fees (or health insurance excess).

Where are the Stella clinics located?
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We are experiencing rapid growth in Australia and we intend to secure our own stand-alone site in the near future.

At the moment, we currently work with the private specialists and their existing facilities (hospital or radiology clinic).

When booked  for your treatment, you will be contacted by the relevant facility that you have been allocated. You might receive reminder text messages or an email/ call from the nurse or practice staff.

Booking the procedure and follow up
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Stella offers concierge-level access to care and will be responsible for booking you in for your treatment. 

Following your treatment, you will be scheduled for a call with Stella's nurse to review the effectiveness of the procedure (s) you’ve had and ask about any symptoms that you may be experiencing. 

Additionally, we perform a 30-day follow-up evaluation to assess your symptoms following SGB, aiming to optimise the positive outcomes of the treatment.

How do I determine if the Stellate Ganglion Block is right for me?
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We have an internal clinical process called a prescreen. A nurse will review your symptoms and health history to determine if you are a good candidate for the Stellate Ganglion Block also known as Stella’s Dual Sympathetic Reset. We will discuss any health conditions that you have to ensure that they do not interfere with the treatment's ability to relieve your symptoms.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation.
How soon can I receive treatment?
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Procedure dates and times will be determined by the provider’s availability. On average, our patients schedule their treatment within 4 weeks of their consultations depending on their location and treatment. This is a specialists service and we will work with the stella provider to offer you the best available date provided that we have completed the internal checks and received your referral from your treating clinicians (GP or Psychiatrist).

In summary you will need to complete your:

  • Consult - select book here from our main page (https://stellacentre.com.au/)
  • Pre-screen assessment: can be completed during your consult or on another day
  • Receive clearance from our clinical team. You will be provided with a referral request letter to your treating practitioner.
  • Obtain a Referral from your GP or your psychiatrist.
  • The applicable treating practitioner for your stellate ganglion block will be discussed with you during consultation. We also provide you with a referral request so that your GP/mental health provider is provided with all the information needed. 

Securing your booking /procedure date: Your booking is secured upon completing the Informed Financial Consent.

What to expect on the day of the procedure ?
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Please ensure you have read your admissions letter carefully and followed any pre-admissions instructions. These will be sent to you a week prior to your procedure. 

The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes, but please plan on being at the facility as per your admissions instructions.

Depending on your location you may need to arrive as per facility instructions.  Please note if you are sedated for your procedure you will be required to have fasted 6 hours.

What are the side effects
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The potential side effects of a stellate ganglion block (SGB) can include temporary hoarseness or voice changes, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelid or Horner syndrome, temporary numbness or weakness in the arm or hand. These are expected and will revolve in 6-8 hours. Other side effects are rare but can include changes in blood pressure or heart rate, headache, infection, bleeding, allergic reactions, and rarely, nerve injury or puncture of surrounding structures. This is all covered during the consent process and on the day of the procedure with the practitioner.

Costs: Procedure Fees, Private health insurance, rebates and Financing
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Stella's consults/ assessments, follow-up appointments are free. The cost of your procedure, and information regarding medicare rebates and private health insurance will be discussed at length during your phone consultation with us and provided to you following the call.  Hospital admission applies in certain Stella locations and this will be discussed with you during the consultation. But just like any procedure there is more than one party involved - you have the Stella doctor, and you may have hospital /facility fees /radiology imaging and  anaesthetic fees if sedated.These costs will be billed separately by the different providers.

Patients who are insured:

Just like any other interventional procedure, if you have premium private health insurance - i.e. top hospital cover (not extras or bronze) - you may have the below but the exact amount  depends on your insurer and policy. We have provided only indicative costs here.

  • Hospital admission/ excess: Your first hospital admission in your calendar year will typically have some excess E.g. $500. 
  • Stella fees Rebates:  the amount reimbursed may vary depending on your health insurance policy  - this can range from $300-4500.
  • Sedation Fees: For hospital admissions where an attending anaesthetist is also present in the theatre with the Stella proceduralist a small anaesthetic fee will also apply out of pocket. The gap is billed separately through the anaesthetist. This varies with anaesthetists around the country but it typically ranges from $500 - $700.

Is financing available?

Yes we offer financing through TLC. https://tlc.com.au/

TLC – fund all Wellness treatments and out of pocket costs

  • Payment plans from $2,000 to $50,000 – covering all medical/wellness fees
  • No stress – the whole process is managed privately by our Consultants
  • Any additional repayments or rebates can be added back on to the payment plan at no extra charge

TLC Payment Plan Now AVAILABLE! Please click here to apply. Treatments can be from as little as $25 per week.

Release my super is another great company helping patients retrieve funds to support their mental health plan and journey to healing. Visit their website to find out more  https://www.releasemysuper.com.au/.
Did you know that out of pocket fees paid for health services contribute to your Medicare threshold? Once you’ve reached the threshold, you’ll start getting higher Medicare benefits. This means you’ll get 80% of your expenses back for certain Medicare services. You can check this by logging into your Medicare and clicking ‘Safety Net’.