The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on selective peripheral denervation for cervical dystonia.


Cervical dystonia is a condition in which the muscles of the neck contract painfully and cause twisting of the head. It may be congenital, but may also occur at any age. Cervical dystonia may persist for several years, and sometimes for life. About 20% of people will recover without treatment.

Cervical dystonia varies according to which muscle groups are affected. The head may be pulled backwards (retrocollis), forwards (anterocollis) or to the side (torticollis).

The cause of cervical dystonia is not known. In children, it is sometimes associated with congenital abnormalities of head shape or spine.

Standard treatment for cervical dystonia includes physiotherapy, drugs to reduce spasm, injections of botulinum toxin and brain surgery. Peripheral denervation has been advocated as an alternative, especially in people who have not responded to other treatments.

Selective peripheral denervation is a surgical approach which involves cutting the nerves to the muscles of the neck through a large skin incision. The surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. The procedure varies according to the muscle groups affected, and whether it involves cutting of the muscles.

Coding recommendations


SNOMED CT preferred term (concept ID)

Selective denervation of peripheral nerve (429376001)

A60.6 Selective denervation of peripheral nerve

Includes: Denervation of peripheral nerve NEC

Z92.3 Neck NEC

Diagnosis or health condition

SNOMED CT preferred term (concept ID)

Isolated cervical dystonia (230322000)