Cauda equina syndrome refers to compression or damage of the nerves in the cauda equina, the lower end of the spinal cord. It leads to symptoms such as lower limb weakness, bladder and bowel dysfunction, abnormal perianal sensation, saddle anesthesia, and lower back pain. Prompt recognition and management of the condition is crucial as it is considered a neurosurgical emergency.
Common causes include lumbar stenosis, spinal trauma, disc disease (herniation), malignancy, hematoma, spinal infections, and neural tube defects.
Diagnosis is typically made through MRI of the spine.
Diagnosis is typically made through MRI of the spine. Urgent surgical intervention is required to relieve the compression and prevent permanent neurological damage or paralysis. Without timely intervention, cauda equina syndrome can result in long-term complications such as bladder and bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, paralysis, and pressure ulcers.