Patients with spinal cord injury show upper motor neuron dysfunction below the level of the lesion. Some patients with cervical and high thoracic injuries show unexpected lower leg atrophy and ankle jerk abnormalities together with persistence of urinary retention. Clinical, neurophysiological and urodynamic findings in 130 patients with cervical and thoracic injuries showed that 18 patients had additional lumbosacral dysfunction. Three patients had radiological findings demonstrating a second lesion of the lower spine. The remaining 15 patients, however, did not have any obvious bony lesion to account for the lumbosacral dysfunction. Atypical neurological findings, abnormal neurophysiological testing and aberrant detrusor behaviour were the essence of the occult lumbosacral dysfunction in cervical and thoracic spinal cord injury patients. Recognition of the presence of a double lesion was important for care of the neuropathic bladder and pain in addition to understanding the unexpected clinical signs.
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