The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Deep brain stimulation for refractory chronic pain syndromes (excluding headache).

NICE has also published guidance on deep brain stimulation for intractable trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (NICE interventional procedure guidance 381, March 2011).


Refractory chronic pain syndromes are characterised by pain that persists despite treatment and for longer than expected. Causes are varied and pain can occur anywhere in the body. Chronic pain can be debilitating and have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. A variety of treatments can be used depending on the cause and precise symptoms. This procedure aims to treat chronic pain that does not respond to other treatments. It involves stimulating a precise area of the brain using an electrode.

Guidance development process

How we develop NICE interventional procedures guidance

Coding and clinical classification codes for this guidance

Your responsibility

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, and specifically any special arrangements relating to the introduction of new interventional procedures. 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. 

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

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. Providers should ensure that governance structures are in place to review, authorise and monitor the introduction of new devices and procedures.

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.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)