Special Annual Issue

Child's Nervous System

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 991-1002

First online:

Selective dorsal rhizotomies in the treatment of spasticity related to cerebral palsy

  • Jean-Pierre FarmerAffiliated withThe Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health CenterDepartment of Pediatric Surgery, McGill University Health CenterMcGill University Email author 
  • , Abdulrahman J SabbaghAffiliated withThe Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Center

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a surgical technique developed over the past decades to manage patients diagnosed with cerebral palsy suffering from spastic diplegia. It involves selectively lesioning sensory rootlets in an effort to maintain a balance between elimination of spasticity and preservation of function. Several recent long-term outcome studies have been published. In addition, shorter follow-up randomized controlled studies have compared the outcome of patients having undergone physiotherapy alone with those that received physiotherapy after selective dorsal rhizotomy.

Materials and methods

In this account, we will discuss the rationale and outcome after SDR. The outcome is addressed in terms of the gross motor function measurement scale (GMFM), degree of elimination of spasticity, strength enhancement, range of motion, fine motor skills, activity of daily living, spastic hip, necessity for postoperative orthopedic procedures, bladder and sphincteric function, and finally possible early or late complications associated with the procedure.


We conclude that SDR is a safe procedure, which offers durable and significant functional gains to properly selected children with spasticity related to cerebral palsy.


Selective dorsal rhizotomy Cerebral palsy Spasticity Outcome Spastic hip Activities daily living (ADL) GMFM Complications