Observations on electrical stimulation of lumbosacral nerve roots in children with and without lower limb spasticity

Childs Nerv Syst. 1992 Oct;8(7):376-82. doi: 10.1007/BF00304784.


Selective functional posterior rhizotomy (SFPR) is a popular operation for the treatment of spasticity in children with cerebral palsy, but the physiologic basis of the procedure is poorly understood. As part of SFPR operations in 60 consecutive children, the responses to electrical stimulation of posterior lumbosacral roots and rootlets, and the corresponding anterior roots were studied. In addition, similar electrical stimulation of posterior roots was performed in four nonspastic "control" children. Sustained responses to 50 Hz stimulation, one of the criteria used to signify abnormality in the spastic children, was found frequently in the "control" children. Contralateral spread to the lower limb muscles and suprasegmental spread to the upper limbs, face, and neck were determined to be the most valid criteria which differentiated abnormal from normal responses. Stimulation of anterior nerve roots at 50 Hz caused sustained responses and ipsilateral lower limb spread, at a low threshold compared to that of corresponding posterior roots. The results of this study bring into question the validity of some of the criteria that are used to select abnormal posterior rootlets in the SFPR procedure, and suggest criteria that may be more valid based on findings in nonspastic children.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Electric Stimulation* / methods
  • Hemiplegia / complications*
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Leg*
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Muscle Spasticity / complications
  • Muscle Spasticity / physiopathology
  • Muscle Spasticity / surgery*
  • Quadriplegia / complications*
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology*