Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is compression of the nerve roots at the base of the spinal cord. The nerve roots (known as the cauda equine) control the sensation and function of the bladder, bowel, sexual organs, and legs. It is rare.
Care is needed right away to avoid long-term damage.
The most common cause is a herniated disc. Discs are semi-soft tissue between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine. The discs act as the spine’s shock absorbers. A disc that pushes into the spinal canal can press against the bundle of nerves and cause CES.
Bydon M, Lin JA, et al. Time to surgery and outcomes in cauda equina syndrome: an analysis of 45 cases. World Neurosurg. 2016;87:110-115.
Cauda equina syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00362. Accessed January 14, 2021.
Cauda equina syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cauda-equina-syndrome. Accessed January 14, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/14/2021
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