Reduction in upper-extremity tone after lumbar selective dorsal rhizotomy in children with spastic cerebral palsy

Clinical article

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University; and
  • 2 Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, New York, New York
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Object

Randomized clinical trials have established that lumbar selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) reduces lower-extremity tone and improves functional outcome in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Significant data exist to support a secondary effect on upper-extremity function in patients with upper-extremity spasticity. The effects of SDR on upper-extremity tone, however, are not well characterized. In this report, the authors sought to assess changes in upper-extremity tone in individual muscle groups after SDR and tried to determine if these changes could be predicted preoperatively.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed 42 children who underwent SDR at Columbia University Medical Center/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian between 2005 and 2011. Twenty-five had upper-extremity spasticity. All underwent pre- and postoperative examination for measuring tone (Modified Ashworth Scale) and assessing functional outcome. Follow-up examinations with therapists were performed at least once at a minimum of 2 months postoperatively (mean 15 months).

Results

In the upper extremities, 23 (92%) of 25 patients had improvements of at least 1 Ashworth point in 2 or more independent motor groups on the Modified Ashworth Scale, and 12 (71%) of 17 families surveyed reported increases in motor control or spontaneous movement. The mean Modified Ashworth Scale scores for all upper-extremity muscle groups demonstrated an improvement from 1.34 to 1.22 (p < 0.001). Patients with a mean preoperative upper-extremity tone of 1.25–1.75 were most likely to benefit from reduction in tone (p = 0.0019). Proximal and pronator muscle groups were most likely to demonstrate reduced tone.

Conclusions

In addition to improvements in lower-extremity tone and function, SDR has demonstrable effects on upper extremities. Greater than 90% of our patients with elevated upper-extremity tone demonstrated reduction in tone in at least 2 muscle groups postoperatively. Patients with a mean Modified Ashworth Scale upper-extremity score of 1.25–1.75 may encounter the greatest reduction in upper-extremity tone.

Abbreviations used in this paper:CP = cerebral palsy; GMFC = Gross Motor Function Classification; MAS = Modified Ashworth Scale; SDR = selective dorsal rhizotomy.

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Contributor Notes

Dr. Gigante and Mr. McDowell contributed equally to this work.

Address correspondence to: Richard C. E. Anderson, M.D., The Neurological Institute, 710 W. 168th St., Rm. 213, New York, NY 10032. email: rca24@columbia.edu.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online October 11, 2013; DOI: 10.3171/2013.9.PEDS12591.

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