The authors report their experience using dorsal longitudinal myelotomy in treating spasticity in 20 patients with complete spinal cord injuries. These patients suffered from severe painful flexor/extensor spasms that prevented them from wheelchair ambulation and/or their decubitus ulcers healing. All were receiving large doses of various oral drugs, including baclofen, which had failed to control their spasticity, and all underwent a modification of a posterior T-myelotomy as first described by Bischof. All 20 patients enjoyed immediate complete relief of their painful spasms, although two (10%) eventually experienced return of their spasms and are thus classified as long-term failures. Seventeen patients succeeded in markedly reducing, or being completely weaned from, their antispasmodic medications. In 11 of 14 patients, nonhealing decubitus ulcers subsequently healed with treatment. Bladder function was unchanged from the preoperative status in all patients. Chronic intrathecal baclofen infusion has recently been reported as an effective treatment of the spasticity of paraplegia. The results of this study, along with previous reports advocating dorsal longitudinal myelotomy, suggest that this approach is an efficacious alternative to chronic baclofen infusion in reducing spasticity for complete paraplegics. Considering the cost of the infusion pump, along with the fact that chronic intrathecal baclofen therapy necessitates long-term medical supervision, it appears that myelotomy is superior for this select group of patients who have no hope of regaining voluntary motor function.
- dorsal longitudinal myelotomy
- operative technique
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology