Surgical Outcomes of Single-Level Bilateral Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy for Spastic Diplegia in 150 Consecutive Patients

Samuel M.T. Jeffery, Balázs Markia, Ian K. Pople, Kristian Aquilina, Jenny Smith, Amr Z. Mohamed, Alison Burchell, Lyn Jenkins, Peter Walsh, Natasha Clark, Jenny Sacree, Mary Cramp, Mohamed O.E. Babiker, William Guy Atherton, Anna Clarke, Richard J. Edwards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is used to improve spasticity, gait, and pain in children with spastic diplegia. There is growing evidence supporting its long-term benefits in terms of functional outcomes, independence, and quality of life. There is, however, little contemporary work describing the surgical morbidity of this irreversible procedure. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the surgical outcomes and complications of SDR at a single United Kingdom center. Methods: Demographics, surgical, postoperative, and follow-up data for all patients undergoing SDR between 2011 and 2016 were collected from medical records. Results: Preoperative Gross Motor Function Classification System levels in 150 consecutive patients were II (35%), III (65%), and IV (1%). Median age was 6 years and 58% were male patients. There were no deaths, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, returns to theater, or readmissions within 30 days. There were no new motor or sphincter deficits. Postoperative neuropathic pain was reported by 5.3% and sensory symptoms by 8.7%. Other complications included: postoperative nausea and vomiting (19.3%), superficial wound infection (3.3%), urinary retention (1.3%), headache (6.7%), and urine or chest infection (4.7%). Follow-up data were available for all patients (93% to 12 months, 72% to 24 months). Persistent neuropathic symptoms were reported in 6.5% at 24 months. Conclusions: SDR using a single-level approach is a safe procedure with low surgical morbidity. This study complements the growing evidence base in support of SDR for spastic diplegia and should help inform decisions when considering treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e60-e66
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Early online date16 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Complications
  • Operative outcomes
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy
  • Spastic diplegia


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