The need for paramedics to be able to identify cauda equina syndrome

Emily Nellist
July 2013

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is a rare but serious neurological emergency, which may require urgent neurosurgical intervention. If left untreated it can lead to devastating consequences of paraplegia with bladder or bowel sphincter deficits. It is the experience of the authors that this is a condition that pre-hospital clinicians may encounter but does not currently feature in all paramedic education curricula.This article looks at what the cauda equina is and how CES can occur. It describes the common signs and symptoms as well as identifying those which should be considered as red flags in practice.After also considering the medico-legal aspects associated with the incorrect or delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome, the authors will recommend that this condition should feature on the future curriculum of all paramedic education and should be a differential diagnosis, considered whenever a clinician assesses a patient with back pain, especially of a non-traumatic nature.

Subscribe to get full access to the Journal of Paramedic Practice

Thank you for vising the Journal of Paramedic Practice and reading our archive of expert clinical content. If you would like to read more from the only journal dedicated to those working in emergency care, you can start your subscription today for just £48.

CPD Focus

Reading the Journal of Paramedic Practice counts towards your professional development

Develop your career

We provide professional information dedicated to paramedics covering training, education and jobs

Stay informed

Get the latest clinical information to ensure you are aware of the latest think and best practice in paramedicne

Subscribe now

Already registered? - Sign in here

Keep up to date with Journal of Paramedic Practice!

Sign up to Journal of Paramedic Practice’s regular newsletters and keep up-to-date with the very latest clinical research and CPD we publish each month.