Multi-level surgery for cerebral palsy

Single event multi-level surgery (SEMLS)

Our orthopaedic consultants treat bone and tissue deformities in young cerebral palsy patients with multi-level surgery

What is multi-level surgery?

Multi-level surgery is a treatment option for children with cerebral palsy. Multiple orthopaedic procedures are carried out in one go, in order to reduce the number of procedures overall. It also reduces recovery and rehabilitation time.

The procedures are carried out after selective dorsal rhizotomy (which reduces spasticity) to help correct remaining bone and joint deformities in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. These include twisted thigh and shin bones and hip dysplasia, where the bone slides out of the socket. Soft tissue problems such as tight tendons are also addressed.

Multi-level surgery is carried out after extensive gait analysis. The consultant observes how your child walks and identifies specific issues they may have, to form a treatment plan.

These multiple procedures may help a child with cerebral palsy to walk better and improve mobility skills and joint mobility.

Need to know

  • What happens during multi-level surgery? icon plus

    Firstly your child will have extensive gait analysis with a consultant. They will observe how the child walks over a period of time, and may recommend multiple level surgery to address specific issues.

    The procedures happen in one combined trip to the operating theatre. Your child will have a general anaesthetic and will be asleep throughout. Depending on your child's conditions, they will then undergo multiple treatments on their legs. These range from open reduction and hip reconstruction for hip dysplasia, to correcting foot deformities. Surgery time depends on the quantity and complexity of procedures.

  • How to prepare your child for surgery icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have. In the week before surgery, it’s important that your child stays healthy. Let your consultant know if your child has recently had a cold or a sore throat, as surgery may need to be postponed to reduce the risk of complications.

    Because general anaesthetic is used during the procedure, your child may need to fast for several hours before the operation. Your consultant will tell you how long they should avoid eating and drinking. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • After multi-level surgery icon plus

    Having multi-level surgery means one single, prolonged recovery involving physiotherapy. Your child will spend the first three weeks after surgery recovering from the procedures. After six weeks, your child will start extensive physiotherapy.

    Once X-rays show adequate healing, the child will learn to move and bear weight on their limbs with the help of crutches. They will be encouraged to exercise two to three times a week, to increase strength. Your child should be fully recovered from multi-level surgery after a year. Your consultant will monitor their progress throughout.

Our paediatric consultants

We're proud to work with leading orthopaedic paediatric experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an orthopaedic appointment for your child

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced paediatric consultants who specialise in orthopaedics. We can also make imaging and outpatient physiotherapy appointments for you.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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