Long-term core outcomes in cauda equina syndrome

Thomas Patrick Barker, Nick Steele, Girish Swamy, Andrew Cook, Am Rai, Robert Crawford, Lennel Lutchman
Bone & Joint Journal 2021, 103-B (9): 1464-1471

AIMS: Cauda equina syndrome (CES) can be associated with chronic severe lower back pain and long-term autonomic dysfunction. This study assesses the recently defined core outcome set for CES in a cohort of patients using validated questionnaires.

METHODS: Between January 2005 and December 2019, 82 patients underwent surgical decompression for acute CES secondary to massive lumbar disc prolapse at our hospital. After review of their records, patients were included if they presented with the clinical and radiological features of CES, then classified as CES incomplete (CESI) or with painless urinary retention (CESR) in accordance with guidelines published by the British Association of Spinal Surgeons. Patients provided written consent and completed a series of questionnaires.

RESULTS: In total, 61 of 82 patients returned a completed survey. Their mean age at presentation was 43 years (20 to 77; SD 12.7), and the mean duration of follow-up 58.2 months (11 to 182; SD 45.3). Autonomic dysfunction was frequent: 33% of patients reported bladder dysfunction, and 10% required a urinary catheter. There was a 38% and 53% incidence of bowel and sexual dysfunction, respectively: 47% of patients reported genital numbness. A total of 67% reported significant back pain: 44% required further investigation and 10% further intervention for the management of lower back pain. Quality of life was lower than expected when corrected for age and sex. Half the patients reported moderate or worse depression, and 40% of patients of working age could no longer work due to problems attributable to CES. Urinary and faecal incontinence, catheter use, sexual dysfunction, and genital numbness were significantly more common in patients with CESR.

CONCLUSION: This study reports the long-term outcome of patients with CES and is the first to use validated patient-reported outcome measures to assess the CES Core Outcome Set. Persistent severe back pain and on-going autonomic dysfunction were frequently reported at a mean follow-up of five years. Cite this article: Bone Joint J  2021;103-B(9):1464-1471.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.