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The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 106-B, Issue 3 | Pages 227 - 231
1 Mar 2024
Todd NV Casey A Birch NC

The diagnostic sub-categorization of cauda equina syndrome (CES) is used to aid communication between doctors and other healthcare professionals. It is also used to determine the need for, and urgency of, MRI and surgery in these patients. A recent paper by Hoeritzauer et al (2023) in this journal examined the interobserver reliability of the widely accepted subcategories in 100 patients with cauda equina syndrome. They found that there is no useful interobserver agreement for the subcategories, even for experienced spinal surgeons. This observation is supported by the largest prospective study of the treatment of cauda equina syndrome in the UK by Woodfield et al (2023). If the accepted subcategories are unreliable, they cannot be used in the way that they are currently, and they should be revised or abandoned. This paper presents a reassessment of the diagnostic and prognostic subcategories of cauda equina syndrome in the light of this evidence, with a suggested cure based on a more inclusive synthesis of symptoms, signs, bladder ultrasound scan results, and pre-intervention urinary catheterization.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(3):227–231.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 105-B, Issue 4 | Pages 347 - 355
15 Mar 2023
Birch NC Cheung JPY Takenaka S El Masri WS

Initial treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury remains as controversial in 2023 as it was in the early 19th century, when Sir Astley Cooper and Sir Charles Bell debated the merits or otherwise of surgery to relieve cord compression. There has been a lack of high-class evidence for early surgery, despite which expeditious intervention has become the surgical norm. This evidence deficit has been progressively addressed in the last decade and more modern statistical methods have been used to clarify some of the issues, which is demonstrated by the results of the SCI-POEM trial. However, there has never been a properly conducted trial of surgery versus active conservative care. As a result, it is still not known whether early surgery or active physiological management of the unstable injured spinal cord offers the better chance for recovery. Surgeons who care for patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries in the acute setting should be aware of the arguments on all sides of the debate, a summary of which this annotation presents.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(4):347–355.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 105-B, Issue 2 | Pages 99 - 100
1 Feb 2023
Birch NC Tsirikos AI

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 104-B, Issue 12 | Pages 1281 - 1283
1 Dec 2022
Azizpour K Birch NC Peul WC

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 104-B, Issue 5 | Pages 567 - 574
2 May 2022
Borton ZM Oakley BJ Clamp JA Birch NC Bateman AH


Cervical radiculopathy is a significant cause of pain and morbidity. For patients with severe and poorly controlled symptoms who may not be candidates for surgical management, treatment with transforaminal epidural steroid injections (CTFESI) has gained widespread acceptance. However, a paucity of high-quality evidence supporting their use balanced against perceived high risks of the procedure potentially undermines the confidence of clinicians who use the technique. We undertook a systematic review of the available literature regarding CTFESI to assess the clinical efficacy and complication rates of the procedure.


OVID, MEDLINE, and Embase database searches were performed independently by two authors who subsequently completed title, abstract, and full-text screening for inclusion against set criteria. Clinical outcomes and complication data were extracted, and a narrative synthesis presented.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 101-B, Issue 4 | Pages 355 - 360
1 Apr 2019
Todd NV Birch NC

Informed consent is a very important part of surgical treatment. In this paper, we report a number of legal judgements in spinal surgery where there was no criticism of the surgical procedure itself. The fault that was identified was a failure to inform the patient of alternatives to, and material risks of, surgery, or overemphasizing the benefits of surgery. In one case, there was a promise that a specific surgeon was to perform the operation, which did not ensue. All of the faults in these cases were faults purely of the consenting process. In many cases, the surgeon claimed to have explained certain risks to the patient but was unable to provide proof of doing so. We propose a checklist that, if followed, would ensure that the surgeon would take their patients through the relevant matters but also, crucially, would act as strong evidence in any future court proceedings that the appropriate discussions had taken place. Although this article focuses on spinal surgery, the principles and messages are applicable to the whole of orthopaedic surgery.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:355–360.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 85-B, Issue 8 | Pages 1209 - 1209
1 Nov 2003

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 79-B, Issue 1 | Pages 170 - 170
1 Jan 1997