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787 Evaluation of the role of anal tone and perianal sensation examination in the assessment of suspected cauda equina syndrome
  1. Carlos Curtis Lopez1,
  2. Andrew Berg2,
  3. Bethan Clayton2,
  4. Irfan Siddique2,
  5. Roberto Carrasco2,
  6. Daniel Horner2,
  7. Michelle Angus2
  1. 1Salford Royal Foundation Trust
  2. 2Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust


Aims/Objectives/Background Cauda equina syndrome (CES) can present with a varied constellation of clinical signs and symptoms, which together with the time sensitive nature of the condition and risk of catastrophic clinical outcome, presents a significant challenge to those assessing patients with this suspected diagnosis. Anal tone is commonly tested during initial assessment using a digital rectal examination (DRE). This study aims to evaluate the diagnostic value of anal tone and perianal sensation assessment in patients with suspected CES and report modern prevalence data on CES within a neurosciences centre.

Methods/Design Consecutive patients with suspected CES presenting over a three-year period to the Emergency Department (ED) of a busy tertiary centre were included in the study. History and examination findings, documented in the ED notes, were assessed and these variables were correlated with the presence or absence of cauda equina compression on subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Results/Conclusions Out of 1005 patients with suspected CES, 117 (11.6%) had MRI confirmed cauda equina compression (MRI +ve CES). 35% of MRI +ve patients and 31% of MRI -ve patients had reduced anal tone. Using univariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses, no associations were found between abnormal anal tone and MRI +ve CES for patients of all ages. The univariate logistic regression analysis identified altered perianal sensation to be significantly associated with MRI +ve CES in patients ≤ 42 years old. This association was no longer present when an adjusted multivariable logistic regression was performed.

The prevalence of MRI +ve CES was 11.6%. Our findings suggest that the clinical finding of reduced anal tone has no demonstrable diagnostic value for those with suspected CES, either in itself or in combination with other clinical findings. Further studies are needed to confirm the diagnostic efficacy of assessing perianal sensation in this context.

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