Assessment and management of cauda equina syndrome

Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2018 Oct:37:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2018.06.002. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


Introduction: Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is a rare condition that affects the nerves in the spine supplying the bladder, bowel and sexual function. Identification and subsequent urgent action is required to avoid permanent damage to these essential organs. Delays in diagnosis can have devastating and life changing consequences for patients and result in high cost negligence claims.

Purpose: The purpose of this masterclass is to examine the current evidence and provide an evidence-based, clinically reasoned approach in the safe management of patients presenting with CES. It will include a focus on the importance of communication, documentation and a practical approach to safety netting those at risk.

Implications for practice: CES has significant implications for patients and clinicians alike. Timely, effective diagnosis and management of patients with CES results in a better outcome.

Keywords: Cauda equina syndrome; Masqueraders; Red flags; Safety netting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cauda Equina / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cauda Equina / physiopathology*
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged