Help with adopting new technologies faster and more consistently

Our medical technologies guidance helps the NHS adopt new efficient and cost effective medical devices more rapidly and consistently.

We evaluate a range of products such as those implanted during surgical procedures, technologies that give greater independence to patients, and diagnostic devices or tests used to detect or monitor medical conditions.

Technologies that NICE should develop guidance on are selected by the Medical Technologies Advisory Committee (MTAC), which consists of a range of clinicians, scientists, academics and lay people.

The MTAC has two separate functions. The first is to select those technologies that NICE should evaluate, and then identify which is the appropriate NICE guidance producing programme to evaluate them. The second function is to develop guidance on technologies which is issued by NICE as Medical Technologies Guidance.

Products showing most promise based on the published selection criteria are selected and then routed to the most suitable guidance programme, most commonly Medical Technologies or Diagnostics Guidance.

This year we produced guidance covering 7 medical technologies covering topics such as:

  • A device to help reduce the risk of blood clots forming in a deep vein of the legs.
  • A system for surgery of the prostate gland which reduces the need for blood transfusion.
  • A device which aims to diagnose nerve damage caused by diabetes. Although this technology was judged to be promising, the guidance recommends further research. In such cases, an innovative research function within the programme works with external academic partners, companies and clinicians to promote the generation of further clinical evidence which supports a future guidance review.

NICE recommends device that helps straighten children’s spines

In June 2014, we produced guidance that recommends the MAGEC system which can straighten and lengthen curved spines in children.

Scoliosis is a condition diagnosed in childhood, which leads to the spine curving and bending to one side. In most cases, the curvature corrects itself in as the child grows. Treatments are also available to stop the spine from curving further, such as a back brace, or an external plaster cast.

If neither of these methods work, growth rods are surgically inserted around the spine in a procedure performed under general anaesthetic, and which might require an overnight stay in hospital. The rods are then straightened in further periodic surgical procedures performed twice a year.

The MAGEC system is a device recommended by NICE for children aged 2 and over to correct their scoliosis, and which can help prevent the need for these repeat surgical procedures.

The device includes up to two growth rods that are surgically inserted and attached to the ribs or the spine above and below the curved section of the spine.

The rods are then lengthened using a magnet and screw system that sits within the rod, and which can be controlled via remote control. The lengthening of the rods can be carried out in an outpatients clinic, and doesn’t require general anaesthetic.

NICE says that the device could save the NHS an estimated £12,000 per child over 6 years.

Professor Carole Longson, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “We are delighted to publish this guidance which can help make a real difference to children who need surgery for a curved spine.

“The NICE guidance advises that the MAGEC system can benefit these children with scoliosis, and save the NHS money.”

Device to help position catheters in veins gains approval

In March 2015, we published guidance on a device that aims to make it easier to place a catheter correctly when it is inserted through a vein in the arm.

Healthcare professionals use catheters to deliver drugs or liquids such as antibiotics into the body. Catheters can be placed in the body through a vein or near to the arm, which is known as a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC).

The standard procedure for placing PICCs is blind insertion of the catheter, when there is no imaging to help with positioning it, followed by a chest X-ray to check the catheter’s position.

However, the start of treatment or monitoring can be delayed by process of X-raying the patient and then waiting for results.

The Sherlock 3CG Tip Confirmation System for placing PICCs uses magnetic and electrocardiographic real-time tracking of a compatible PICC. This enables the person placing the PICC to detect and correct any error in how the tip is positioned.

As a result, the system allows for more accurate positioning, preventing the need for patient X-rays. It can also save up to £106 per patient in specific clinical situations.

Professor Carole Longson MBE, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, said: “Having examined the evidence, the MTAC has concluded that using the Sherlock 3CG Tip Confirmation System is likely to benefit patients and the NHS. Using the Sherlock system avoids the need for a chest X-ray to confirm catheter position, which is required with blind catheter insertion.

“This avoids any related delay in using the catheter for providing treatments or in monitoring.

“Using the technology also increases staff and patient confidence of the accuracy of the procedure during catheter insertion.”