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Childs Nerv Syst. 2001 Jan;17(1-2):1-18.

Outcomes after selective dorsal rhizotomy for spastic cerebral palsy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia and British Columbia's Children's Hospital Vancouver, Canada.



The purpose of this article was to review the published outcomes after selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) for treatment of spastic cerebral palsy.


A literature search identified all articles related to outcomes after SDR. The outcomes were reviewed according to a paradigm developed by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). The quality of the evidence for each outcome was assessed using Sackett's criteria and the classification system developed by the Brain Trauma Foundation and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.


There is very strong evidence for benefits of SDR in the impairment domain of the NCMRR classification. SDR has been shown conclusively to decrease lower limb spasticity and increase lower limb range of motion. There is strong, but not as conclusive evidence that SDR has a positive impact in the functional limitation dimension, with improvements in motor function, and in particular the Gross Motor Function Assessment (GMFM). There is a moderate degree of certainty that SDR results in improvements in the disability dimension, as evidenced particularly by improvements in the Functional Independence Measure for Children (WeeFIM) and Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI). There is a moderate degree of certainty that SDR results in positive suprasegmental effects, especially related to upper limb function and cognition. There is weak evidence that SDR may reduce the need for orthopedic procedures in patients with spastic cerebral palsy, and the impact on hip subluxation relative to the natural history of this problem is unclear.


This information could help to define the role of SDR in the management of the child with spastic cerebral palsy, in the light of alternative therapies, such as intrathecal baclofen and botulinum toxin, which have been introduced more recently. It also reveals the need for further studies, particularly dealing with quality of life and economic impact.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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