About SDR
Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is a neurosurgical procedure which involves sectioning and cutting of some of the sensory nerve fibres that come from the muscles and enter the spinal cord. These are the nerves that cause the muscles to tighten up.

During the procedure a 1 to 2 inch incision is made along the centre of the lower back just above the waist. Once the spinal cord is exposed the surgical team locates, then divides each of the dorsal roots into 3 to 5 rootlets, and electrically stimulates them to identify the ones that cause spasticity. The abnormal nerve rootlets are then selectively and permanently cut, leaving the normal rootlets intact.

The surgeon in the US, Dr Park, has performed this operation over 2,000 times over the last 20 years – including over 100 children from the UK - so, whilst it is relatively unknown, the team are highly experienced and have a 100% success rate.

A form of this surgery is available in the UK. In May 2011 the first SDR operation was successfully performed in the UK on the NHS.

However, budget restrictions confine Dr Aquilina (Bristol Frenchay Hospital) to only 1 or 2 SDR operations per month. Demand by the 100’s of possible candidates will far out-weigh the resource capability. Also, the UK will only assess children aged 4 and over. The decision to fund SDR on the NHS is at the sole discretion of our local PCT and even then there is no guarantee that they will fund Vigo.

Waiting another year is just not an option, Vigo is already suffering from 20% hip dysplasia of both hips which will only get worse, the SDR op will stop Vigo’s hip dysplasia getting any worse.

In order to prevent further hip dysplasia, risk of developing muscle contractures, ankle and foot deformities and back problems, Vigo needs this operation as soon as possible. By having SDR while he is still young Vigo still has a chance of being able to walk independently and we may be able to avoid the need for extra surgery in the future. Without SDR his muscles will continue getting tighter, more painful and uncomfortable and the constant tightness and lack of walking will cause him other problems with his bones and joints that will require considerable surgery in the future. Dr Park recommends that the best time for surgery is between the ages of 2-5 making Vigo an ideal candidate for SDR.

It is anticipated that without SDR Vigo will possibly walk very short distances with his Kaye Walker but by the time he reaches between 12-14 years of age he will almost certainly be confined to a wheelchair. By having the SDR operation while he is still young Dr Park has predicted that at the very least Vigo will walk with crutches in all environments and there is a very good chance he will walk independently. This will avoid the need for further surgery in the future.

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