The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Percutaneous intradiscal laser ablation in the lumbar spine.
It replaces the previous guidance on Laser lumbar discectomy (NICE interventional procedures guidance 27, December 2003).
Discs that act like cushions between the bones of the spine can sometimes get damaged and protrude onto nerves, causing back and leg pain, and numbness and weakness in the leg.
In percutaneous intradiscal laser ablation, a needle is inserted through the outer cover of the disc, into its jelly-like centre. A laser is then inserted through the needle to destroy part of the disc, with the aim of shrinking it.
This guidance represents the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, healthcare professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account. However, the guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations. Nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.