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Delayed Diagnosis of Prolapsed Disc: Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Delayed Diagnosis of Prolapsed Disc: Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome

If a patient has a prolapsed disc in the lumbar region of the spine, they may be in danger of developing cauda equina syndrome. A delay in referring the patient for an MRI scan may mean that their symptoms deteriorate before surgery can bring about recovery or, at least, halt any further loss of function.

A prolapsed disc and cauda equina syndrome

A delay in recognising or suspecting the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome may be considered to have been substandard medical care. If the patient is left with debilitating long-term symptoms, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

A prolapsed disc refers to a disc between the vertebrae in the spine where the inner gel-like substance is protruding through the outer layer. This can squash or compress the nerves in the spinal canal, causing them to lose their ability to function. This can happen either gradually over time or suddenly, perhaps due to injury.

Developing cauda equina syndrome

Many people who develop cauda equina syndrome have had existing lower back pain for some time. They may initially only experience pain around the lower back and down one side, affecting one leg with pain and possible weakness or tingling in that leg.

If these symptoms start to spread or new symptoms begin to occur, it is possible that the patient is developing cauda equina syndrome. It is vital that their medical practitioner recognises that they may need an MRI scan as a matter of emergency in order to confirm the underlying cause of their new symptoms.

If a prolapsed disc is pressing on the patient's cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine, the patient may need emergency surgery to decompress the nerves and save their lower body function.

The symptoms which might indicate that the patient is developing a condition considerably more sinister than sciatica would include the following:

  • Sciatica symptoms in both legs
  • Loss of sensation in the saddle area, between the legs and round the anus and buttocks
  • Alteration in urinary sensation such as having to strain to commence or complete urination
  • Loss of awareness of having to urinate
  • Bladder or bowel leakage or incontinence

Medical negligence

A failure by a medical professional to recognise these red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome might be regarded as poor-quality care.

A failure to refer the patient for an emergency MRI scan may be considered as negligent and leave the patient to face a lifetime of disability.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering from the long-term impact of a delay in diagnosing a prolapsed disc which has caused CES, contact Glynns to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

It might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

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

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