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Cauda Equina Syndrome Nerve Injury

Cauda Equina Syndrome Nerve Injury

Cauda equina syndrome is when certain nerves at the base of the spine are injured. This can lead to severe neurological dysfunction. Treatment is needed immediately if this neurological dysfunction is to be reversed.

Nerve injury cauda equina syndrome

The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord. They spread from the lower back, through the pelvis and buttocks, and down into the legs.

The cauda equina nerves have many uses, including providing sensation and function to the legs, bladder, rectum, genitals, and saddle (the buttocks, groin and perineum).

As with any nerves, when the cauda equina nerves are damaged they will not work as well. Depending upon the severity of the injury, function can be lost altogether.

The cauda equina nerves will become injured if they come under sustained pressure. For instance, they might be squashed by a large disc prolapse, a crushing accident or a blood clot.

The cauda equina nerves can also be compressed as a result of other medical conditions, including ankylosing spondylitis and cancer (where tumours grow on the spine).

When the cauda equina nerves are compressed and injured, function and sensation in the aforementioned areas will be lost. This will cause noticeable symptoms, such as:

  • Numbness and weakness in the legs/feet
  • Bladder dysfunction, with reduced sensation and difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Bladder dysfunction, with constipation or incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction, with reduced sensation
  • Numbness in the saddle area

Permanent nerve injury from cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome has to be treated with decompression surgery. Surgery is needed immediately, ideally within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.

If treatment is provided within this timeframe the nerves can be restored, and the patient's symptoms will improve or completely resolve.

But if more than 48 hours pass before surgery is carried out, the nerve injury will be extensive. Surgery is still needed, but unfortunately the nerves cannot be repaired.

When the patient is very neurologically injured, he/she will continue to suffer the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. Sadly this is likely to continue for the rest of their lives.

Surgery not done in time

If cauda equina syndrome is not treated within the required timeframe because of medical delays, there could be a case of negligence.

Medical practitioners should be able to recognise the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and organise an emergency MRI scan. Once compression is verified, medical practitioners should also know to proceed straight to decompression surgery.

If you did not receive this standard of care, causing you to suffer harm, you could be entitled to pursue a claim. Contact us for more information.

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