Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR)

A neurosurgical procedure for children with cerebral palsy

SDR is a revolutionary surgery to help children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy to walk more easily

About SDR

Spastic diplegia is a condition that affects around 25% of children born with cerebral palsy. Children with this condition can find it difficult to walk due to stiffness (spasticity) in their legs. Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) cuts selected nerve roots in the spinal cord to reduce stiffness.

Need to know

  • What happens during SDR surgery? icon plus

    The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic, meaning your child will be asleep during surgery.

    Your paediatric neurosurgeon will make a small cut in your child's spinal canal to identify the nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord. The sensory nerve roots connected to your child's leg muscles are separated and individually tested. Any roots found to contribute to muscle stiffness are cut, making it easier for your child to use their legs more normally.

    At the end of the procedure, the cut in your child's back will be closed with dissolvable stitches. The entire operation usually takes around four hours.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. A few weeks before the operation, you'll need to bring your child in for a full pre-operative assessment, including muscle strength and walking assessment and range of movement measurements.

    You and your child can come to the hospital the day before the operation to meet the team. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    After the procedure, we'll care for your child in hospital for about six days. During this time they'll have personalised physiotherapy. This will involve strengthening exercises to increase their range of movement and help them walk.

    After your child leaves the hospital, they'll need to come back to The Portland for regular physiotherapy for two weeks. Follow-up physiotherapy is essential and your child should have this several times a week for the first six months. We'll monitor your child's progress at 6, 12 and 24 months after the operation.

Our neurosurgeons specialising in SDR

We're proud to work with leading consultants in SDR, the surgical procedure is managed by the consultant and they are supported by experienced paediatric nurses  and physiotherapists whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex paediatric surgery to tests and diagnostic procedures, we provide exceptional care for children across out network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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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