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Cauda Equina
Cauda Equina Syndrome and A and E

Cauda Equina Syndrome and A and E

What response should you expect if you go to an Accident & Emergency facility with symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

A patient attending A and E with symptoms which suggest that they may be developing cauda equina syndrome merits an immediate response.

Key Cauda Equina Symptoms

The relevant symptoms might include the following:

  • Bilateral sciatica, i.e. pain down both legs
  • Tingling or numbness in both legs
  • Altered bladder function, such as altered flow, difficulty emptying the bladder, straining to urinate
  • Tingling or numbness in the perineal 'saddle' region between the legs
  • Altered degree of control of lower limbs and feet

What is the appropriate response?

A patient with the above symptoms may well be developing cauda equina syndrome. If they still have some urinary control, as suggested above, it is vital that they are sent for an MRI scan as a matter of emergency.

An MRI scan will enable the medical practitioners to confirm a diagnosis and determine the course of action.

If compression of the cauda equina nerves is confirmed, the patient will require an emergency surgical decompression within hours in order to have the best chance of recovering sensation and control of the bladder, bowels, genital area and lower limbs.

Why is it an emergency?

If a patient at this stage of developing cauda equina syndrome receives suitable, emergency treatment, they have a good chance of recovery.

If their surgery is delayed and the patient's symptoms deteriorate to complete loss of urinary control, studies have suggested that their chances of recovery are significantly reduced.

Even at a later stage of development, prompt decompression surgery is still recommended and an improvement in symptoms may be seen but if the patient's symptoms have deteriorated due to hospital negligence, the medical practitioners have failed in their duty of care.

An inappropriate response

If the patient's symptoms are not recognised as being indicative of cauda equina syndrome and the patient is sent home, the hospital may be guilty of providing substandard care.

If the patient's symptoms are recognised but an MRI is delayed or further specialist assistance is not sought, the medical practitioners may be guilty of medical negligence.

If surgery is delayed despite a confirmation of condition from an MRI scan, leading to a deterioration in symptoms and a worse long-term outcome, the patient may have received poor medical care.

Medical Negligence

If you are suffering with the appalling long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome because your diagnosis and treatment were delayed, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Glynns Solicitors are a specialist medical negligence legal practice with considerable experience of supporting successful claims for cauda equina syndrome negligence.

Contact us today to discuss your circumstances with an experienced solicitor.

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