The world-class Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow opened in 2017 to become the first in Scotland to offer cordotomy surgery to patients experiencing overwhelming pain.
Cordotomy is a procedure that disables very fine pain-conducting fibres within the spinothalamic tract of the spinal cord in order to remove the sensation of severe pain.
A specialised needle is inserted in the neck then uses radio frequency to ‘burn’ targeted very fine pain nerves without affecting other nerves in the body. The procedure requires seven surgical theatre staff, takes less than an hour, and can transform the quality of a patient’s life.
Mesothelioma UK provided funding towards the purchase of equipment, reconfiguring the theatre table and upgrading the image intensifier machine. The Centre has been taking referrals since March 2017 and has now conducted procedures on 10 patients including those with mesothelioma.
The Centre is not at capacity yet and is inviting applications from patients who meet the criteria. The existing patients have predominantly been based in Scotland and the north of England so far but out of area referrals will be considered.
To be eligible for the procedure, patients will be referred by a palliative medicine consultant if they are experiencing overwhelming pain or unbearable side effects as a result of their pain medications. Patients deemed suitable will then be seen in an assessment clinic where it will be decided if a cordotomy is the most appropriate procedure.