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Functional outcomes after selective dorsal rhizotomy followed by minimally invasive tendon lengthening procedures in children with spastic cerebral palsy

Limpaphayom, Noppacharta; Stewart, Sarab; Wang, Linb; Liu, Jennyb; Park, Tae S.c; Dobbs, Matthew B.b

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics B: January 2020 - Volume 29 - Issue 1 - p 1–8
doi: 10.1097/BPB.0000000000000642
Cerebral Palsy

Many surgical options have been proposed to improve the ambulatory status of children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP), but none have focused on addressing both spasticity and lower extremity tendon contractures. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the results of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) followed by minimally invasive tendon lengthening allowing immediate return to ambulation. Two hundred fifty-five spastic CP patients (who received SDR procedure at an average age of 6.9±2.6  years and tendon lengthening procedure at an average age of 7.2±2.5  years) were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were grouped by the gross motor function classification system (GMFCS) 1–3 and 4–5. Kaplan–Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazard model using a requirement for additional tendon lengthening as an end point were conducted. Tendon lengthening followed SDR at an average of 4.3±10.7  months. On an average of 4.9±1.2  years after tendon lengthening, GMFCS was improved in 28 and maintained in 213 patients, respectively. There was no difference of variables and joint angles between the two GMFCS groups. A repeat tendon lengthening was required in 19 patients. The Kaplan–Meier analysis showed 81% success rate. Cox proportional hazard model identified age at tendon lengthening [hazards ratio (HR), 0.53; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.37–0.76] and duration between SDR and tendon lengthening of more than 6  months (HR, 2.96; 95% CI, 1.05–8.33) associated with need for a repeat tendon lengthening procedure. Our novel approach of SDR/tendon lengthening results in improved joint angles as well as stable or improved GMFCS. Longer follow-up is necessary to determine if this approach could prolong ambulatory ability and reduced need for more invasive orthopedic surgeries.

aDepartment of Orthopaedics, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Departments of bOrthopaedic Surgery

cNeurological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Matthew B. Dobbs, MD, 1 Children’s Place, Suite 4S-60, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO 63110 USA, Tel: +1 314 454 4814; fax: +1 314 454 4817; email:

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