Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy

For patients with muscle spasticity (tightness), selective dorsal rhizotomy may be an option for treatment.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy is a surgical procedure that treats muscle spasticity (tightness). A small incision is made in the child’s lower back and the dorsal sensory nerves that are sending abnormal signals to the leg muscles are cut. The surgeon will stimulate each root electrically and identify which roots are causing the spasticity. The abnormal roots are cut, leaving the normal ones intact. The goal is to help children move better and hurt less. 

Who is eligible?

The best candidates for surgery are those who:

  • Have tightness mainly in the legs.
  • Are physically and mentally able to participate in intensive physical therapy after the operation. This includes inpatient therapy initially. 
  • Are motivated and able to follow instructions.

Potential (but unlikely) risks:

  • Increased weakness due to overcutting of nerves
  • Infection
  • Short term loss of bladder control
  • Sensory loss

Post-Op Therapy

After surgrery, the recommended frequency of therapy sessions for patients is:

  • The initial 2-4 weeks of therapy will be done inpatient
  • Surgery to 6 months after surgery: 4-5 times per week
  • 6-12 months after surgery: 3-4 times per week
  • 12-36 months after surgery: 2-4 times per week

Each session will be 45-60 minutes.

Contact Us

If you'd like to make an appointment, you can use our online appointment request form, and a member of our team will follow up with you for scheduling. You can also give us a call.