Characteristics and assessment of children undergoing upper limb surgery for management of cerebral palsy

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Danielle Sabella
Adam Scheinberg
Bruce Johnstone
David McCombe
Monika Hasnat


cerebral palsy, upper extremity, paediatric hospital, muscle spasticity, patient selection


Background: Surgical intervention for improvement of upper limb function in children with cerebral palsy is reported to be of benefit where careful patient selection is taken into consideration. Currently there are no clinical guidelines to help determine selection of individuals best suited for operative management, nor does research exist that identifies characteristics of the patient cohort currently being selected as appropriate for surgery. The aim of this study is to determine the current trends in selection, assessment and management of patients with cerebral palsy undergoing upper limb surgery.

Methods: This retrospective study included data from 102 individuals with cerebral palsy who had undergone upper limb surgical management during a 10-year time period at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. There were 138 separate surgical events involving 579 procedures during this period. Data regarding the characteristics of the individuals and their perioperative assessment was collected and analysed.
Results: The cohort was 56.9% male, the median age at time of surgery was 14.2 years old. Motor involvement was 51.0% bilateral and 49.0% unilateral and 96.0% of individuals had a spastic component. The most common surgical goal was position care (50.4% of cases), followed by activity and participation (47.9% of cases). Preoperative outcome measures were used in 69.6% of cases.
Conclusions: Currently, individuals are selected for surgery using variable preoperative assessment. Selection has great potential to differ between clinicians. These compounding issues provide rationale for initiating further research into understanding the characteristics of this patient group and promoting better standardisation of perioperative assessment.


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