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Predictors of poor outcome after selective dorsal rhizotomy in treatment of spastic cerebral palsy



The purpose of the study was to determine if there are preoperative clinical characteristics that might be predictive of a poor outcome after selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP).


A retrospective analysis was performed on 174 children who had undergone SDR from 1983 to 2001. Patients were divided into two groups according to their outcome at approximately 1 year after surgery: “acceptable” or “poor” outcome. As predictors of outcome, the factors compared were age at operation, types of CP (diplegia, quadriplegia), history of prematurity, prior lower limb orthopedic surgeries, history of seizures, dystonic limbs, opisthotonic posturing, lumbar hyperlordosis, truncal hypotonia, preoperative ambulatory function, preoperative Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) scores, and presence of intellectual delay and speech delay.


Eleven children (6.3%) had a “poor” outcome. The type of CP (P<0.001) and intellectual delay (P=0.015) were significant predictors of outcome in the univariate regression analysis, but only the type of CP retained significant predictive power in the multivariate analysis.


These data suggest that preoperative diagnosis is the strongest predictor of outcome after SDR. Intellectual delay demonstrated predictive power only in the univariate model, suggesting that it might have some prognostic value but less than the diagnosis.

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We wish to thank Jeremy Hamm at the Children’s and Women’s Health Center statistical consulting unit for performing and consulting on the statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Paul Steinbok.

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Kim, H.S., Steinbok, P. & Wickenheiser, D. Predictors of poor outcome after selective dorsal rhizotomy in treatment of spastic cerebral palsy. Childs Nerv Syst 22, 60–66 (2006).

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  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy
  • Predictors of outcome
  • Prognosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spasticity