Selective dorsal rhizotomy for spastic cerebral palsy: a review

Childs Nerv Syst. 2007 Sep;23(9):981-90. doi: 10.1007/s00381-007-0379-5. Epub 2007 Jun 6.


Objective: The purpose of this report is to review the historical development, current operative techniques, selection criteria, outcomes, and complications of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) for treatment of spastic cerebral palsy (CP).

Materials and methods: This review is based on a review of literature and personal observations.

Results: SDR has evolved from the 1960s onwards into a standard neurosurgical procedure for spastic CP. There is much variation in the operative technique among surgeons with respect to the level of exposure, electrophysiological guidance, and extent of rhizotomies. Appropriate selection of patients for SDR requires determination that spasticity, not dystonia, is the major disabling hypertonia and that the lower limbs are maximally involved. Positive outcomes have been well demonstrated in the impairment, functional limitations, and disability dimensions, as per the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research Model of Dimensions of the Disabling Process. Complications have been relatively few.

Conclusions: SDR is the procedure of choice for treatment of spasticity in spastic diplegic CP and in selected children with spastic quadriplegic CP. Optimal selection and outcomes are achieved using a multidisciplinary approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / pathology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / surgery*
  • Rhizotomy / methods*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / surgery*