Inclusion of the s2 dorsal rootlets in functional posterior rhizotomy for spasticity in children with cerebral palsy

Frederick F. Lang, Vedran Deletis, Henry W. Cohen, Linda Velasquez, Rick Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


MANY NEUROSURGEONS HAVE made a practice of sectioning the S2 dorsal roots during selective posterior rhizotomy for the treatment of spasticity in children with cerebral palsy, but the efficacy of this treatment has not previously been proven. S2 afferents are involved in reflex arcs of the plantar flexors (PFs), so that S2 lesioning should in theory reduce PF spasticity. To test this assumption, we determined the frequency of postoperative residual spasticity in the PFs when S2 lesioning was or was not performed. We assessed 85 children for whom 6-month follow-up was available. Functional rhizotomy from L2-S1 was performed on 13 of them (26 legs with PF spasticity) and from L2-S2 on 72 (141 legs with PF spasticity). Rootlets were lesioned if there was an abnormal response to intraoperative electrical stimulation. In 20 patients, lesioning of the S2 rootlets was assisted by the “pudendal neurogram,” a technique previously shown to prevent bladder dysfunction during sectioning of the sacral roots. When S2 roots were excluded from the lesioning process, residual PF spasticity was detected in 35% of the legs that had it preoperatively, leaving 5 (38%) of 13 children with functionally impairing spasticity. When S2 roots were included, 6% of legs that had PF spasticity retained it postoperatively (P < 0.001), leaving 8 (11%) of 72 patients with functionally limiting spasticity (P < 0.05). Thus, the addition of the S2 roots to the procedure resulted in an 81% reduction in the number of legs with residual PF spasticity and a 71% reduction in the number of patients with residual PF spasticity. The use of the pudendal neurogram did not alter the incidence of residual spasticity. We conclude that including the S2 roots in selective functional rhizotomy significantly reduces PF spasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-853
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Functional neurosurgery
  • Pudendal neurogram
  • Sacral roots
  • Selective posterior rhizotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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