Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Medical Policy


Medical Policy:
Sphenopalatine Ganglion Nerve Block
Effective Date:
April 27, 2020
Issued Date:
May 3, 2021
Last Revision Date:
April 2020
Annual Review:
April 2021

This policy version was replaced May 2, 2022. To find the newest version, go to, read and accept the Blue Cross Medical Policy Statement, then select “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Medical Policies.” This will bring up the Medical Policy search screen. Enter the policy number without the version number (last 3 digits).

Chronic migraine and severe headaches are common conditions and the available treatments are not universally effective. Sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks are a proposed treatment option for chronic migraines and some severe non-migraine headaches. The SPG is a group of nerve cells located behind the bony structures of the nose. The nerve bundle is linked to the trigeminal nerve, the primary nerve involved in headache disorders. The SPG has both autonomic nerves, which in this case are associated with functions such as tearing and nasal congestion, and sensory nerves, associated with pain perception. SPG blocks involve topical application of local anesthetic to mucosa overlying the SPG. The rationale for using SPG blocks to treat headaches is that local anesthetics in low concentrations could block the sensory fibers and thereby reduce pain while maintaining autonomic function.

Three catheter devices are commercially available in the United States for performing SPG blocks. The catheters have somewhat different designs but all are attached to syringes that contain local anesthetic. The catheters are inserted intranasally and, once in place, the local anesthetic is applied through the catheter. With 2 of the 3 commercially available catheters (the SphenoCath®, Allevio™), patients are positioned on their back with their nose pointed vertically and their head turned to the side. With the Tx360® device, patients remain seated.

This policy is designed to address medical guidelines that are appropriate for the majority of individuals with a particular disease, illness, or condition. Each person's unique clinical circumstances may warrant individual consideration, based on review of applicable medical records.

Policy Position Coverage is subject to the specific terms of the member's benefit plan.

Sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are considered EXPERIMENTAL/INVESTIGATIVE for all indications, including but not limited to the treatment of migraines and non-migraine headaches due to the lack of clinical evidence demonstrating an impact on improved health outcomes.


Denial Statements

No additional statements.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota medical policies apply generally to all Blue Cross and Blue Plus plans and products. Benefit plans vary in coverage and some plans may not provide coverage for certain services addressed in the medical policies. When determining coverage, reference the member’s specific benefit plan, including exclusions and limitations.

Medicaid products may provide different coverage for certain services, which may be addressed in different policies. For Minnesota Health Care Program (MHCP) policies, please consult the MHCP Provider Manual website.

Medicare products may provide different coverage for certain services, which may be addressed in different policies. For Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD), Local Coverage Determinations (LCD), and/or Local Coverage Articles, please consult CMS, National Government Services, or CGS websites. 

Note that services with specific coverage criteria may be reviewed retrospectively to determine if criteria are being met. Retrospective denial of claims may result if criteria are not met.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota reserves the right to revise, update and/or add to its medical policies at any time without notice. Codes listed on this policy are included for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Inclusion or exclusion of a code does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement. 

These guidelines are the proprietary information of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Any sale, copying or dissemination of the medical policies is prohibited; however, limited copying of medical policies is permitted for individual use.


CPT® codes copyright American Medical Association® 2022. All rights reserved.

CDT codes copyright American Dental Association® 2022. All rights reserved.