Object: Both botulinum toxin type A (BTA) injection and selective posterior rhizotomy (SPR) are well-recognized treatments for children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP); however, there has been no study in which the long-term effectiveness of these two approaches has been compared.
Methods: The study population comprised 62 ambulatory children with spastic diplegic CP who were participating in the same rehabilitation program and 19 healthy volunteers. The children with CP were divided into the following three groups: BTA (22 cases), SPR (20 cases), and no treatment (20 cases); the healthy volunteers served as the control group. A computer-assisted gait analysis system was used to assess gait performance. Gait was assessed in the three groups of children at 1 week before treatment, and 3, 6, 12, and 20 months after treatment. Based on the analysis of walking velocity, cadence, and step length, the BTA group demonstrated rapid improvement posttreatment but the improvement became insignificant after 12 months even with repeated BTA injections at 4-month intervals. In contrast, the SPR group displayed initial deterioration of gait parameters during the first 3 months posttreatment and then improved continuously from 6 to 20 months. The control group did not display a significant change in gait.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that the effectiveness of BTA injection is more short-lived and SPR initially decreases gait performance but is expected to improve gait performance at between 6 and 20 months after the procedure.