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Acta Orthop. 2010 Jun;81(3):391-5. doi: 10.3109/17453674.2010.483985.

Clinical classification of cauda equina syndrome for proper treatment.

Author information

1
Orthopedics Department, ChangZheng Hospital, ShangHai, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is a severe complication of lumbar spinal disorders; it results from compression of the nerve roots of the cauda equina. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of a classification scheme of CES based on factors including clinical symptoms, imaging signs, and electrophysiological findings.

METHODS:

The records of 39 patients with CES were divided into 4 groups based on clinical features as follows. Group 1 (preclinical): low back pain with only bulbocavernosus reflex and ischiocavernosus reflex abnormalities. Group 2 (early): saddle sensory disturbance and bilateral sciatica. Group 3 (middle): saddle sensory disturbance, bowel or bladder dysfunction, motor weakness of the lower extremity, and reduced sexual function. Group 4 (late): absence of saddle sensation and sexual function in addition to uncontrolled bowel function. The outcome including radiographic and electrophysiological findings was compared between groups.

RESULTS:

The main clinical manifestations of CES included bilateral saddle sensory disturbance, and bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction. The clinical symptoms of patients with multiple-segment canal stenosis identified radiographically were more severe than those of patients with single-segment stenosis. BCR and ICR improved in groups 1 and 2 after surgery, but no change was noted for groups 3 and 4.

INTERPRETATION:

We conclude that bilateral radiculopathy or sciatica are early stages of CES and indicate a high risk of development of advanced CES. Electrophysiological abnormalities and reduced saddle sensation are indices of early diagnosis. Patients at the preclinical and early stages have better functional recovery than patients in later stages after surgical decompression.

PMID:
20443745
PMCID:
PMC2876846
DOI:
10.3109/17453674.2010.483985
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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