The dorsal rhizotomy is a long and complex neurosurgical procedure. As in other major neurosurgical procedures, it presents some risks. Paralysis of the legs and bladder, impotence, and sensory loss are the most serious complications. Wound infection and meningitis are also possible, but they are usually controlled with antibiotics. Leakage of the spinal fluid through the wound is another risk.

Abnormal sensitivity of the skin on the feet and legs is relatively common after SDR, but usually resolves within 6 weeks. There is no way to prevent the abnormal sensitivity in the feet. Transient change in bladder control may occur, but this also resolves within a few weeks. A few of our patients have experienced urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

Complications in our SDR Patients

In our more than 3,000 selective dorsal rhizotomy patients, 4 patients had a spinal fluid leak that required surgical repair. A few children had spinal fluid collection under the skin but no surgery was needed. One patient developed anugulation of the spine (kyphosis) that required spine fusion. There was no long-term complications in any of patients who underwent surgery as early as 1987. Our results indicate the long-term safety of selective dorsal rhizotomy.