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Radiologia Brasileira

Print version ISSN 0100-3984

Abstract

NOGUEIRA-BARBOSA, Marcello Henrique; SAVARESE, Leonor Garbin; HERRERO, Carlos Fernando Pereira da Silva  and  DEFINO, Helton Luiz Aparecido. Redundant nerve roots of the cauda equina: review of the literature. Radiol Bras [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.3, pp. 155-159. ISSN 0100-3984.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-39842012000300007.

In imaging diagnosis, redundant nerve roots of the cauda equina are characterized by the presence of elongated, enlarged and tortuous nerve roots in close relationship with a high-grade lumbar spinal canal stenosis. This is not an independent entity, but it is believed to be a consequence of the chronic compression at the level of the lumbar canal stenosis and thus may be part of the natural history of lumbar spinal stenosis. The present paper is aimed at reviewing the histopathological, electrophysiological and imaging findings, particularly at magnetic resonance imaging, as well as the clinical meaning of this entity. As the current assessment of canal stenosis and root compression is preferably performed by means of magnetic resonance imaging, this is the imaging method by which the condition is identified. The recognition of redundant nerve roots at magnetic resonance imaging is important, particularly to avoid misdiagnosing other conditions such as intradural arteriovenous malformations. The literature approaching the clinical relevance of the presence of redundant nerve roots is controversial. There are articles suggesting that the pathological changes of the nerve roots are irreversible at the moment of diagnosis and therefore neurological symptoms are less likely to improve with surgical decompression, but such concept is not a consensus.

Keywords : Cauda equina; Spinal stenosis; Spine; Magnetic resonance imaging.

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