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Cauda Equina Syndrome As The Result of a Back Op

Cauda Equina Syndrome As The Result of a Back Op

Cauda equina syndrome is a devastating condition that requires emergency surgery to relieve the symptoms. Occasionally, however, a back operation can instead cause this problem.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition of the lower back where the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord have become compressed. This will cause a reduction in the functioning of those nerves, affecting the ability to control and experience sensation in key areas of the lower body.

What is the impact of cauda equina syndrome?

The cauda equina nerves control the saddle area around the buttocks and between the legs, so loss of function of the nerves can lead to the complete loss of ability to control urinary and bowel function as well as inability to control wind or function sexually. Alongside this neurological loss, is the loss of sensation of the need to urinate and loss of sexual sensation.

The legs can develop tingling or numbness and control of the lower limbs and feet can become reduced, even to the point of paralysis.

Spinal surgery as a cause of cauda equina syndrome

A patient with cauda equina syndrome usually needs emergency decompression surgery in order to give them the best chance of recovering sensation and motor function.

Occasionally, however, lower spine surgery can be the cause of the condition.

Lumbar spine surgery is usually carried out to rectify the pain and problems of a slipped or herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

During surgery, a portion of a disc or an entire disc may be removed. This is usually highly successful surgery, providing significant and prompt benefits to the patient. But, rarely, the impact of the procedure can cause compression of the cauda equina nerves which are also found in the lumbar region of the spine.

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome

It is important, therefore, to be aware of the signs of cauda equina syndrome in the days and weeks following lower back surgery as treatment for cauda equina syndrome is known to be more successful the earlier it is carried out.

Early signs of cauda equina syndrome include the following:

  • Altered urinary sensation such as poor flow or difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Tingling and weakness in the legs
  • Lower back pain

At this point, prompt diagnosis with an MRI scan followed by surgery within 48 hours is necessary to try to prevent the deterioration of symptoms.

A delay in diagnosis, leading to a delay in treatment, can allow the condition to deteriorate to the point where long-term recovery is much less likely and the patient will probably experience significant physical and psychological problems for the remainder of their life.

Medical Negligence

If your experience of cauda equina syndrome was due to incompetent surgery or your symptoms were not recognised, you may be entitled to compensation for the pain and injuries you have suffered.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss your circumstances. We are a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors with extensive experience of supporting cauda equina syndrome claims.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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