NHS embraces pioneering surgery for children with cerebral palsy


Pioneering surgery to help children with cerebral palsy is now being made available on the NHS; potentially saving families thousands of pounds.

Frenchay Hospital in Bristol became the first in the UK to carry out the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation on two children, which involves cutting some of the nerves in the spinal cord to overcome the tightening of muscles that makes it difficult for youngsters with some forms of cerebral palsy to walk unaided.

Cerebral palsy is commonly used to describe a number of conditions where brain damage has affected a child's ability to control movement and posture and as many as 1million people suffer from it in the UK alone. Until now, families have previously had to raise tens of thousands of pounds to pay for their children to have the surgery in America.

New pioneering surgery for children with cerebral palsy on the NHS

"With the cost of the operation along with travel and accommodation expenses, families were paying up to £50,000 which they had to raise entirely by themselves," said Marguarita Tyne, a partner at Simpson Millar. "The Consultant neurosurgeon at /Frenchay Hospital, Kristian Aquilina claims that more than 40 families were forced to visit the US at their own expense last year so there is obviously demand for the operation to be carried out here in the UK."

Local NHS trusts can now fund the surgery on a case-by-case basis, with the Bristol team expecting to carry out 2 operations each month.

"It’s great news that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has finally recognised the value of this procedure which has the potential to improve the lives of many children and their families," added Marguarita.

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