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Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy

Published November 2016

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR)

What were we asked?

A parent asked us whether Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) was an effective procedure for children with cerebral palsy. This is an update of a previous evidence summary.

Key findings


  • Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is an operation that aims to reduce spasticity and improve function in children with cerebral palsy.
  • There is strong evidence that SDR can reduce spasticity, but the evidence is more limited for long-term improvements in functioning.
  • Children who are able to walk are likely to benefit most.
  • More research is needed to understand if SDR leads to long-term improvements in function and movement.
  • Families considering SDR need to be aware of the commitment to intensive physiotherapy following surgery.


Note: This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.