LEEDS Children’s Hospital has been chosen as one of only five centres nationally to offer Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery following a commissioning announcement by NHS England on Saturday, July 7.

Leeds Children’s Hospital is a leading centre for children’s neurosurgery and was one of only five hospitals nationally to undertake SDR as part of NHS England’s Commissioning through Evaluation (CtE) programme (2012-2016). This programme looked at whether performing SDR on certain children, followed by intensive physiotherapy, helped young patients to be more mobile in later life.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy is a type of surgery which aims to reduce tight and stiff muscle tone in the lower limbs of children with a type of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia (where two limbs are affected). The surgery entails separating some of the nerves in the spine which control limb muscles.

Mr John Goodden, Paediatric Neurosurgeon at Leeds Children’s Hospital said: “So far, we have performed SDR surgery on 93 children. The surgery itself is complex and intricate, and is followed by intensive physiotherapy which requires the children to be very brave and to work hard to get the desired results.

“I am very proud of all of my patients for the way they have overcome their challenges and are now living their lives to the full. All of our patients have shown improvement with less leg stiffness which allows them to walk more easily with less requirement for frames or sticks. Many of our SDR patients are now riding bikes or trikes, horse-riding and swimming, and taking part in sports days to name just a few activities.

“We are absolutely delighted that NHS England has decided to commission SDR surgery and that Leeds Children’s Hospital will be one of the centres to deliver the service: SDR really does change children’s lives.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Yvette Oade, said: “We are thrilled that Leeds is one of the specialist centres chosen to provide the SDR service. Mr Goodden and his team have worked very closely with NHS England on the evaluation of this type of surgery to ensure that it provides positive clinical outcomes for children and young people.

“Leeds is a national leader in the field of SDR and was one of the first hospitals in England to begin offering this surgery over a decade ago. We have established an excellent team of surgeons, physiotherapists and specialist nurses who have the experience and commitment to ensure our young patients get the best possible result from their surgery and can go on to live their lives to the full.”

As reported in last week's Gazette and Observer four-year-old Gabriel Kendell, of Burley-in-Wharfedale underwent the exact same operation just two days before the Government announced it would fund SDR. Gabriel's family launched a £40,000 fundraising appeal to enable the operation to go ahead by Mr Goodden and his team in Leeds.