What are the motor and sensory findings characteristic of conus medullaris syndrome?

Updated: Jun 14, 2018
  • Author: Segun Toyin Dawodu, JD, MD, MS, MBA, LLM, FAAPMR, FAANEM; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
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Answer

Patients may exhibit hypertonicity, especially if the lesion is isolated and primarily UMN.

Signs are almost identical to those of the cauda equina syndrome, except that in conus medullaris syndrome signs are more likely to be bilateral; sacral segments occasionally show preserved bulbocavernosus reflexes and normal or increased anal sphincter tone; the muscle stretch reflex may be hyperreflexic, especially if the conus medullaris syndrome (ie, UMN lesion) is isolated; Babinski reflex may affect the extensors; and muscle tone might be increased (ie, spasticity).

Other signs include papilledema (rare, occurs in lower spinal cord tumors), cutaneous abnormalities (eg, cutaneous angioma, pilonidal sinus that may be present in dermoid or epidermoid tumors), distended bladder due to areflexia, and other spinal abnormalities (noted on lower back examination) predisposing the patient to the syndrome.


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