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GP Examination for Cauda Equina Syndrome

GP Examination for Cauda Equina Syndrome

If a patient presents to their GP with symptoms suggestive of spinal nerve compression, the GP must carry out a thorough examination to check for cauda equina syndrome.

A failure to examine a patient could lead to a delay in the eventual diagnosis and treatment of cauda equina syndrome. If so, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

For more information on claiming compensation for cauda equina syndrome, please get in touch with our team of solicitors today.

GP attendance for cauda equina syndrome

Someone who develops cauda equina syndrome will often attend their GP in the first instance, especially if the condition develops very slowly.

Not everyone will have precisely the same symptoms, but the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:

  • Lower back pain extending into the legs
  • Leg weakness and numbness
  • Numbness around the buttocks, genitals and perineum
  • Difficultly urinating, with retention, reduced sensation, poor flow and incontinence

When a patient presents with the characteristic symptoms of spinal nerve compression, a GP should suspect the possibility of cauda equina syndrome. The majority of patients will have a simple case of sciatica, but it is still necessary to rule out cauda equina syndrome.

GP examination for CES

In order to check whether or not cauda equina syndrome is present, a GP should perform a thorough neurological examination. This will include:

  • Testing reflexes in the legs and ankles
  • A straight leg raise test to check mechanical movement
  • Testing sensation around the saddle area
  • Testing sensation and power in the legs/feet
  • Digital rectal examination

A GP must then decide whether the clinical findings of this examination correspond with a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome. Symptoms such as absent reflexes, loss of sensation around the saddle area and legs, foot drop and reduced anal tone all point towards cauda equina syndrome.

If there is any suspicion that a patient does have cauda equina syndrome, a referral should be made to an orthopaedic or spinal practitioner. If a patient already has bladder and bowel symptoms, this referral should be immediate meaning the patient must be admitted to hospital the same day.

Failure to examine CES patient

If a GP does not perform a thorough examination, it can mean that a patient's cauda equina syndrome is missed. Consequently there will be a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition, which could result in severe neurological impairment. Such complications would have been avoided, had the GP carried out a proper examination when the patient first presented.

To find out whether you could be entitled to pursue a claim against your GP for missed cauda equina syndrome, please get in touch with our team today.

Expert legal advice

To find out if you can claim for cauda equina syndrome, please contact us at Glynns Solicitors. We specialise in cauda equina claims and can provide professional legal advice.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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