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Cauda Equina Syndrome

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a condition which occurs when the nerves at the lower end of the spinal cord are squeezed together or compressed.

It is so-named because where the nerves fan out into a bundle of fibres at the base of the spine which resemble a horse’s tail (‘Cauda Equina’ being Latin for ‘horse tail’).

The cause of the compression can result from a number of injuries or conditions such as spinal tumours, disc herniation (i.e. slipped, ruptured or bulging lumbar disc), or as a consequence of lower back surgery. Of particular concern is disc herniation, as this can occur quite suddenly (particularly in younger people). However, symptoms may develop over time and in older people and it can be construed as part of the ageing process.

Cauda Equina syndrome requires emergency hospital admission and surgery.

The longer it goes untreated the greater the chance it could lead to permanent paralysis and incontinence.

It is generally accepted that there is a 48-hour window (although some clinicians would even go so far as to say a 24-hour window) from the onset of Cauda Equina symptoms for surgical decompression to take place in order to have a reasonable chance of reversal.

In practice, it is not as simple as this and as a result, it is one of the major causes of litigation in the NHS (for both primary and secondary care).

There are a number of ‘red flag’ symptoms for Cauda Equina Syndrome which include:

  • Altered bladder and bowel function (i.e. unable to void bladder or bowels, or unable to control when you do void bladder or bowels).
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Numbness in the saddle area, legs or perineal area
  • Severe lower back pain
  • Motor weakness, sensory loss or pain in one or both legs
  • Sensory abnormalities in the bladder or rectum
  • A loss of reflexes in the extremities
  • Acute or chronic radiating pain

If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, may have Cauda Equina Syndrome, seek urgent medical attention by calling 999 or attending A&E immediately. Cauda Equina Syndrome can be diagnosed through an emergency MRI scan and early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to enabling reversal of the symptoms of the syndrome.

As Cauda Equina Syndrome can cause permanent and life-altering damage, it is vital that medical professionals diagnose and treat a patient promptly.

We can support you through the claim and enable you to achieve the justice that you deserve. There are a number of scenarios in which you may have a claim, including:

  • Missed or late diagnosis
  • Mistreatment
  • A delay in appropriate treatment
  • Mistreatment of complications arising post-operation
  • Inadequate or negligent surgery
  • Failure to be advised of the red flags and safety net advice

Call us today for a free, no-obligation discussion.