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Lumbar spinal canal MRI diameter is smaller in herniated disc cauda equina syndrome patients.

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Lumbar spinal canal MRI diameter is smaller in herniated disc cauda equina syndrome patients.

PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0186148

Authors: Korse NS, Kruit MC, Peul WC, Vleggeert-Lankamp CLA

Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Correlation between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical features in cauda equina syndrome (CES) is unknown; nor is known whether there are differences in MRI spinal canal size between lumbar herniated disc patients with CES versus lumbar herniated discs patients without CES, operated for sciatica. The aims of this study are 1) evaluating the association of MRI features with clinical presentation and outcome of CES and 2) comparing lumbar spinal canal diameters of lumbar herniated disc patients with CES versus lumbar herniated disc patients without CES, operated because of sciatica.
METHODS: MRIs of CES patients were assessed for the following features: level of disc lesion, type (uni- or bilateral) and severity of caudal compression. Pre- and postoperative clinical features (micturition dysfunction, defecation dysfunction, altered sensation of the saddle area) were retrieved from the medical files. In addition, anteroposterior (AP) lumbar spinal canal diameters of CES patients were measured at MRI. AP diameters of lumbar herniated disc patients without CES, operated for sciatica, were measured for comparison.
RESULTS: 48 CES patients were included. At MRI, bilateral compression was seen in 82%; complete caudal compression in 29%. MRI features were not associated with clinical presentation nor outcome. AP diameter was measured for 26 CES patients and for 31 lumbar herniated disc patients without CES, operated for sciatica. Comparison displayed a significant smaller AP diameter of the lumbar spinal canal in CES patients (largest p = 0.002). Compared to average diameters in literature, diameters of CES patients were significantly more often below average than that of the sciatica patients (largest p = 0.021).
CONCLUSION: This is the first study demonstrating differences in lumbar spinal canal size between lumbar herniated disc patients with CES and lumbar herniated disc patients without CES, operated for sciatica. This finding might imply that lumbar herniated disc patients with a relative small lumbar spinal canal might need to be approached differently in managing complaints of herniated disc. Since the number of studied patients is relatively small, further research should be conducted before clinical consequences are considered.

PMID: 29023556 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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