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Cauda Equina Syndrome and Deep Vein Thrombosis

Cauda Equina Syndrome and Deep Vein Thrombosis

Whilst not a regular cause of Cauda Equina Syndrome, there has been some evidence in recent years that Deep Vein Thrombosis can occasionally lead to this devastating condition.

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare condition where the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed. This can cause numbness in the buttocks and genital area, sciatica-like pain in the legs and urinary and/or bowel incontinence. In extreme cases, where the condition goes undiagnosed or treatment is delayed, it can cause paralysis.

Causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Generally, Cauda Equina Syndrome is caused by some form of damage to the spinal cord through a herniated disc, a tumour, an abscess or spinal stenosis. However, over recent years, there have been examples of the condition developing as a secondary result of thrombosis of the inferior vena cava.

What is Thrombosis of the Inferior Vena Cava?

The inferior vena cava is a major blood vessel that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart, before that blood passes up to the lungs where the carbon dioxide is removed. Extending from the upper end of the pelvis where it is formed by the union of the iliac veins, the inferior vena cava travels close to the spine, up to the heart. Numerous other blood vessels feed into the vein on its journey.

A thrombosis occurs where a blood clot develops in the vein. It can cause pain and swelling. It usually occurs in the legs but, more rarely, it can occur in the inferior vena cava. This can lead to a reduction of the blood flow and cause the dilation or swelling of the anterior epidural veins which may act as an alternative route for the obstructed vein. Due to the proximity to the spinal cord, this can, in turn, cause compression of the cauda equina nerves.

What are the symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

If a patient with thrombosis of the inferior vena cava starts to experience changes in urinary function and pain in one or both legs, it is possible that they may have the early signs of cauda equina syndrome. It is vital that action is taken promptly to try to ensure that the condition does not deteriorate to the point of 'complete' cauda equina where the patient has painless urinary retention and becomes incontinent.

An urgent MRI scan is necessary and, if diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is confirmed, it is generally thought that decompression surgery is necessary within 48 hours.

Medical Negligence

If your cauda equina symptoms were missed or treatment delayed, leaving you with life-changing effects, contact us at Glynns Solicitors. We specialise in medical negligence claims and have years of experience of cauda equina syndrome negligence.

Glynns Solicitors is a specialist medical negligence practice with extensive experience of cauda equina syndrome cases. Contact us today to discuss your situation.

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