Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Surgery

Benefiting Children who have Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Three out of every 1,000 children born each year are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Many of these children suffer from spasticity or increased muscle tone, making it difficult for them to move and be moved. 

While there are different types of cerebral palsy, children with spastic cerebral palsy may benefit from selective dorsal rhizotomy.

What is selective dorsal rhizotomy?

Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), a neurosurgical procedure, reduces the child's spasticity without changing sensation or strength.

The surgery does not cure cerebral palsy, but it can significantly reduce spasticity.

There are two groups of children who benefit from selective dorsal rhizotomy:

  • Children who can or have the potential to walk, but their spasticity interferes with fluid, free movement.
  • Children with more severe cerebral palsy may benefit from improved ease of movement, positioning and nursing care.
    Following selective dorsal rhizotomy, some children may benefit from an additional procedure called muscle or tendon lengthening. This minimally invasive procedure, performed by an orthopaedic surgeon, helps improve joint mobility and function following surgery.

Is this surgery right for my child?

Patient selection at our Spasticity Clinic weighs the potential risks against the benefits, including:

  • Degree of underlying strength and selective mobility
  • Intellectual capacity of the child
  • Potential for significant functional improvement

Ideal surgical candidates include children who were born prematurely with a low birth weight. Generally, we do not recommend surgery for children who had diagnoses of meningitis, congenital infection, traumatic brain injuries or hereditary disorders.

Who will work with my child?

Patients may be seen by team members from: