Cauda Equina and Conus Medullaris Syndromes Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jun 13, 2018
  • Author: Segun Toyin Dawodu, JD, MD, MS, MBA, LLM, FAAPMR, FAANEM; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, CPE, MHCM, FAAPL  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Conus medullaris infarction should be considered in the differential diagnosis, and a source of emboli should be sought by ultrasound to rule out an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Heterotopic ossification should be ruled out by triple-bone scan in a patient with pain and swelling of the lower extremity in whom deep venous thrombosis (DVT) has been ruled out. In other words, heterotopic ossification should always be considered as a differential diagnosis of DVT in these patients.

Metastatic malignant neoplasms of the spine should be ruled out and the primary source sought as part of the workup in any patient presenting with any of the symptoms listed in Clinical.

Other problems to be considered include the following: [78]

  • Amyloidosis with deposits in the spinal cord

  • Ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthropathy

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (types 1 and 3)

  • Intravascular lymphomatosis

  • Lipomas within the spine

  • Lumbar stenosis (multilevel)

  • Paget disease of the spine

  • Spinal infection/abscess and meningitis

  • Tethered cord syndrome/short filum terminale

  • Vascular intermittent claudication

Differential Diagnoses