Cauda equina syndrome with normal MR imaging

Alasdair Rooney, Patrick F Statham, Jon Stone, Jon Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The aim of this study was to compare the clinical characteristics of patients with and without abnormal MR imaging admitted to a neurosurgical unit with suspected cauda equina syndrome using a retrospective study of consecutive admissions to a regional neurosurgical unit over a 10-month period. Clinical details were obtained from the case notes. A lumbar spine MR scan to investigate possible cauda equina syndrome was performed in 66 patients. There were no significant differences between those with abnormal imaging (n = 34, 52%) and those with a normal scan (n = 32, 48%) in respect of sex, clinical history or features recorded on examination. Those with normal imaging had a high frequency of weakness (n = 18, 59%), saddle numbness (n = 17, 57%), leg numbness (n = 24, 80%), urinary incontinence (n = 13, 54%) and urinary retention (n = 9, 53%). A large number of patients present to neurosurgical units with symptoms suggestive of cauda equina syndrome without any radiological evidence of structural pathology. While some may have had an alternative organic cause, we propose that these symptoms may have a "functional" origin in many patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adult
  • Cauda Equina
  • Causality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conversion Disorder
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Polyradiculopathy
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Canal
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic
  • Urinary Incontinence


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