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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Cauda Equina Syndrome Following Discectomy Operation

Cauda Equina Syndrome Following Discectomy Operation

Following an operation to solve her back pain, Diane did not expect her condition to deteriorate to the point where she can no longer control her bladder.

After months of pain in her lower back and left leg, Diane attended hospital for a discectomy to relieve the pressure of a disc on a nerve. At this point, thankfully, there appeared to be no symptoms of cauda equina syndrome.

As she came round from her operation, however, Diane began to realise that something did not feel quite right.

She was expecting to be discharged the following morning but, by then, she had developed an excruciating headache and had begun vomiting.

She underwent an MRI scan which showed that she had suffered a cerebrospinal fluid leak and disc prolapse. It was decided that she should remain on bed rest for five days. As Diane had not passed urine since before her operration, a catheter was also inserted to relieve her bladder.

The following day, Diane realised that she was losing sensation in her perineum. She informed a nurse who told her not to worry. Over the following two days, the loss of sensation worsened until Diane felt completely numb. This is generally regarded as a red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome but no action was taken at this time. In fact, Diane had not been seen by either her surgeon or the Resident Medical Officer for two days.

The next day, Diane was finally observed to be in retention of urine, another cauda equina syndrome. An examination of Diane's perineum also identified her loss of sensation. However, it was not until the end of the day that action was finally taken and the decision was made to transfer Diane to another hospital for assessment.

Following examination early in the morning, a further MRI scan revealed that Diane was suffering compression of the cauda equina and she underwent surgery later that morning.

When Diane asked Glynns to advise her regarding a compensation claim, we instructed a medical expert to assess the quality of her care. He found that, had Diane undergone decompression surgery shortly after her first complaint of losing perineal sensation, it is likely that she would have recovered all lost sensation. Even with a further delay of a day or two, it is likely that she would have recovered some perineal and sexual sensation as well as possible bladder sensation.

Unfortunately, the delay in undertaking surgery for this emergency condition has meant that Diane has been left with distressing and highly-debilitating symptoms which are likely to be permanent. She has lost all sexual sensation and suffers considerable difficulty with bladder function, having to self-catheterise.

Glynns pursued a compensation claim on Diane's behalf and she has been awarded in excess of £130,000 in compensation for her poor quality medical care.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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