stellate ganglia (anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The stellate ganglia are sympathetic ganglia on either side of the root of the neck. They are part of the sympathetic chain. On each side, they are formed as a result of fusion of the inferior cervical ganglion with the first, and occasionally second, thoracic ganglion. Thus, the stellate ganglion replaces these ganglia.

The position of the stellate ganglion is similar to that of the inferior cervical ganglion:

  • posterior:
    • neck of first rib
    • transverse process of C7
  • anterior: subclavian artery
  • laterally:
    • supreme intercostal vein
    • superior intercostal artery
    • ventral ramus of first thoracic nerve
  • medially: vertebral body
  • inferiorly: pleural cupola over apex of lung

The stellate ganglia only receive sympathetic efferent fibres from the sympathetic chains which lie inferiorly and the first and second thoracic segmental anterior rami. Its branches ramify widely - see submenu.