What is Cauda Equina syndrome?

Here medical negligence solicitors, Blackwater Law discuss Cauda Equina Syndrome.

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition due to damage to the bundle of nerves below the end of the spinal cord, called the cauda equina. Although the condition can range in severity, medical treatment should be sought.

The Medical Protection Society and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence have recently updated the clinical knowledge summary for recognising cauda equina syndrome, following concerns from a leading spinal surgeon that the existing guidance was not effective in preventing significant neurological harm, which could leave patients suffering from cauda equina syndrome pursuing a medical negligence claim should their treatment not have been sufficient. This may or may not be as part of a wider spinal injury claim.

What are the symptoms of cauda equina?

In most instances, the symptoms of cauda equina start suddenly but progress rapidly affecting people of all ages. Often those experiencing cauda equina suffer from lower back pain, however, in some instances this may not be the case.

Other symptoms can include issues with bladder function such as being able to pass urine and bowel related issues, commonly constipation.

Such is the severity of the condition the threshold of referral has recently been lowered in order to allow greater chance of recovery before neurological damage occurs or becomes permanent. It is hoped that this will in turn reduce the number of delayed diagnoses and therefore help to reduce the number of misdiagnosis claims occurring as a result,

What are the red flags for referral?

  1. Bilateral sciatica
  2. Severe or progressive bilateral neurological deficit of the legs, such as major motor weakness with knee extension, ankle eversion, or foot dorsiflexion
  3. Difficulty initiating micturition or impaired sensation of urinary flow, if untreated this may lead to irreversible urinary retention with overflow urinary incontinence (The old flag requiring the actual onsent of urinary retention has been changed)
  4. Loss of sensation of rectal fullness, if untreated this may lead to irreversible faecal incontinence (this replaces the old flag which required the actual onset of faecal incontinence)
  5. Perianal, perineal or genital sensory loss(saddle anaesthesia or paraesthesia)
  6. Laxity of the anal sphincter

What is the treatment and recovery for cauda equina?

Often surgery is required to correct cauda equina in order to relieve pressure from the nerves and to prevent any further, permanent nerve damage.

Other treatments depend on the severity or cause of cauda equina for example radiotherapy may be needed if the cause of the illness was from bone cancer.

Recovery depends largely on the severity of the condition however the speed in which the condition was diagnosed will also impact the outlook. As a result, a delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can adversely impact any future outlook. Delays in diagnosis can result in permanent nerve damage affecting the bladder, bowel and legs. It is therefore critical that the condition is diagnosed quickly otherwise it is likely that a delayed diagnosis claim may be sought in order to seek compensation from any suffering incurred as a result.

Suffering from a spinal injury?

If you are suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome or another spinal injury it may be possible to seek compensation to assist with making the necessary changes and adaptations to improve your comfort.

Get expert advice

Call today and speak to Dominic Graham, specialist medical negligence solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

CALL 0800 083 5500