Keywords: spinal cord, physical exam, assessment (PubMed Search)
Back pain with lower extremity symptoms can be concerning for cauda equina. Some pointers regarding the H&P:
None of these symptoms independently predicts cauda equina syndrome with an accuracy greater than 65%.
Bottom Line: do not depend on any one finding to reliably exclude or confirm cauda equina.
Shapiro S. Medical realities of cauda equina syndrome secondary to lumbar disc herniation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000;25(3):348-351; discussion 352
Gardner A, Gardner E, Morley T. Cauda equina syndrome: a review of the current clinical and medico-legal position. Eur Spine J. 2011;20(5):690-697. (Review article)
Bell DA, Collie D, Statham PF. Cauda equina syndrome: what is the correlation between clinical assessment and MRI scanning? Br J Neurosurg. 2007;21(2):201-203