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18 July 2014

Bristol Children’s Hospital selected for specialist surgery evaluation

Bristol Royal Hospital for Children has been announced as one of five regional centres to evaluate a procedure that can help some children with cerebral palsy to walk.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is an extremely complex procedure that can help children with particularly severe muscle stiffness (spasticity) in their legs to improve their walking. The procedure involves opening up the bones of the spine in the lower back to operate on the nerves, which could potentially help relieve spasticity.

NHS England is commissioning an evaluation of the success of the procedure at five hospitals across the UK. The programme, which will run over two to three years, aims to gather vital evidence on the effectiveness of the procedure. Children aged between three and 10 who suffer stiffness in their lower limbs, and meet the clinical criteria for treatment, can access SDR as part of the initiative.  

Bristol Royal Hospital for Children's expert paediatric neurosurgery team includes two neurosurgeons who can carry out the operation, as well as a physiotherapy team that carries out the vital post-operation rehabilitation needed for the procedure to be effective.

Dr Ian Pople, consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: "We believe SDR can make a substantial difference to the lives of some children with cerebral palsy. The team here has a strong track record with SDR, having performed around 90 of these operations since 2011. We're looking forward to building on that experience and contributing to the trial, as well as improving the mobility, independence and quality of life for children with cerebral palsy who meet the clinical criteria for the treatment."

Dr Bryony Strachan, clinical chair for women's and children's services at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol), said: "We're delighted that Bristol Children's Hospital has been chosen as one of five centres to trial SDR. The recent centralisation of children's specialist services at the BCH brought the paediatric neurosurgery team here, and it's fantastic that their expertise and experience in performing SDR has been recognised and will be put to such good use in this evaluation."