What is Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy?

Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is the most effective treatment option for children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) who suffer from spastic diplegia or spastic hemiplegia. Of all the treatments for spastic CP, SDR leads to the greatest, most lasting improvement in motor function.

In Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, the patient undergoes a level one laminectomy, a surgical procedure in which the lamina (back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal) are removed in order to expose the nerve that control the lower extremities. These nerves are then tested in the operating room to measure their relative levels of spasticity. The most spastic nerves are cut in order to decrease the excessive muscle tone or tightness in the legs that is caused by spasticity.

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Our Team

At Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, pediatric neurosurgeons perform SDR using the most sophisticated surgical, diagnostic and imaging equipment. The postoperative mobility results can be excellent—young patients with a strong commitment to succeed can achieve independent walking.

Our multidisciplinary team is skilled in caring for the complex needs of a child with cerebral palsy. Their approach combines the expertise of affiliated pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric neurologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, neuroradiologists, as well as physical therapists and occupational therapists, to ensure every child receives the best care available.

About Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Treatment

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery takes approximately two and half hours and usually requires a five-day stay in the hospital. The patient then undergoes a minimum of six to twelve months of intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy plus regular therapy during years that follow with the end goal of independent ambulation.

With minimal complications observed in a very low percentage of patients, SDR is an excellent option for many spastic CP patients. The majority of patients who undergo SDR and complete the requisite physical therapy are eventually able to walk completely on their own.

Patient Stories

  • Patient Carlos Miranda

    Defying the odds: Carlos’ story of courage, hope and resilience

    September 9, 2022

    Carlos’ intraventricular hemorrhage (neonatal brain bleed) led to scarring in his brain from being born prematurely. The severe scarring and lack of blood flow to his brain tissue contributed to periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a softening of the white brain tissue near the fluid-f...

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  • Himanshu smiling

    Himanshu’s Story: Novel Treatment for Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis

    March 7, 2022

    A novel treatment approach at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is giving 17-year-old Himanshu Prasad the opportunity to live life free of the muscle tightness and spasticity that has plagued him since birth.

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  • Aubree Ford

    Aubree Ford: Positive Steps Towards Independence

    January 7, 2019

    Aubree was diagnosed as a baby with spastic triplegic cerebral palsy. In her case, both her legs and her left arm had spasticity – a condition that made her affected limbs rigid and stiff. Because of the spasticity, Aubree has had physical therapy since she was a baby to help manage it. She has n...

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  • Darius Sonia

    Darius Sonia: The Perfect Candidate for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy

    October 10, 2016

    A caring and informed mother, a knowledgeable physical therapist and an expert in the surgical management of spasticity have transformed the life of eight-year-old Darius Sonia. Born seven weeks early, Darius suffered an intraventricular hemorrhage in the first few days of life – a common occurre...

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Contact Us

If you have any questions, use the online tool below to help us connect with you. To refer a patient or schedule an appointment, please contact our clinic using the information below.

Pediatric Neurosurgery Clinic
UT Professional Building
6410 Fannin, Suite 950
Houston, TX 77030
P: (832) 325-7242
F: (713) 512-2221

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