Influence of timing of surgery on Cauda equina syndrome: Outcomes at a national spinal centre
Abstract Purpose There is no doubt that the best outcome achieved in Cauda equina syndrome (CES) involves surgical decompression. The controversy regarding outcome lies with timing of surgery. This study reports outcomes on a large population based series. Timing of surgery, Cauda Equina syndrome classification based on British Association of Spine Surgeons (BASS) guidelines and co-morbid illness will be assessed to evaluate influence on outcome. Materials and methods A retrospective review of all patients surgically decompressed for CES between 01/01/2008 to 01/08/2014 was conducted. Patients with ongoing symptoms were followed up for a minimum of 2 years. Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) was classified according to the BASS criteria: CES suspicious (CESS), incomplete (CESI) and painless urinary retention (CESR). Time and symptom resolution were assessed. Results A total of 136 patients were treated for CES; 69 CESR, 22 CESI and 45 CESS. There was no statistical difference in age, sex, smoking status and alcohol status with regards to timing of surgery. No correlation between increasing co-morbidity score and poor outcome was demonstrated in any subgroup All CESR/I patients demonstrated some improvement in bowel and bladder dysfunction post-operatively. No significant difference in improved autonomic dysfunction was demonstrated in relation to timing of surgery. CES subclassification may predict outcome of non-autonomic symptoms. Statistically better outcomes were found in CESS groups with regards to post-operative lower back pain (P 0.049) and saddle paraesthesia (P 0.02). Conclusion Surgical Decompression for CES is an effective treatment that significantly improves patient symptoms including bowel and bladder dysfunction Early surgical decompression
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