What is the role of surgery in the treatment of muscular dystrophy?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020
  • Author: Twee T Do, MD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey D Thomson, MD  more...
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The indications for any operative intervention in patients with muscular dystrophy (MD) include making a diagnosis by means of muscle biopsy (see Workup) or prolonging the patient's function and/or ability to ambulate by specific procedures. Other indicated procedures include tendo Achillis and iliopsoas tenotomies for ease of fit into braces, tibialis posterior tendon transfers or tenotomies for more rigid equinovarus deformities of the foot, and segmental spinal stabilization for rapidly developing scoliosis (see Surgical Therapy below).

In patients with muscular dystrophy, some relative contraindications for surgery include obesity, rapidly progressive muscle weakness, poor cardiopulmonary status, and a patient's lack of motivation for participating in postoperative rehabilitation programs.

The ability of advancing technology and molecular biology with fetal blood detection of affected fetuses as early as the first trimester opens the door to many ethical issues. One such issue is whether pregnancy termination should be available as an option when a muscle disease is detected that may be fatal in the third decade of life.

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