Assessing and managing patients with cauda equina syndrome

Br J Nurs. 2013 Feb 14-28;22(3):134-7. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2013.22.3.134.


Cauda equina syndrome is a surgical emergency that requires prompt assessment and swift surgical intervention. Compression of the cauda equina can result in loss of power and sensation to the lower limbs, back pain and loss of bladder and bowel function. Research regarding timing of surgery and surgical outcome continues to be debated. Nurses have an important role in recognising symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and supporting the patient and effectively managing care based on individual healthcare needs.

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / innervation
  • Polyradiculopathy / complications
  • Polyradiculopathy / diagnosis*
  • Polyradiculopathy / nursing
  • Polyradiculopathy / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology