Neck injection may improve long COVID symptom

Researchers from Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health have discovered that an injection of anesthetic to specific nerves in the neck may be able to improve loss of smell and taste associated with long COVID.

Parosmia, the name of the condition, is usually rare and associated with brain trauma, brain surgery, head and neck tumors and other severe viral conditions, according to a Nov. 20 news release.

The symptom is much less common for long COVID patients. But those who have the side effect long term cannot enjoy the scent of once favorite candles or foods or even taste staples they once loved, like coffee.

The injection takes less than 10 minutes and is described as a "CT-guided stellate ganglion block," according to the release. The procedure is guided by imaging. The stellate ganglion is part of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary processes like heart rate, digestion and breathing. The nerves that receive the block, the stellate ganglia, are located on both sides of the neck, and the injection blocks the nerve from delivering certain signals to the head.

In a small scale study of the new procedure, follow-up with the 37 patients revealed that 59% reported improvements in their parosmia condition.

The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America on Nov. 26-29.


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