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How Common is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

How Common is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome can produce long-term effects that will change someone's life significantly for the worse. It is described as 'rare' but what does this mean and what are the chances of a good recovery if you do develop the condition?

What are the effects of cauda equina syndrome?

When cauda equina syndrome is not spotted and treatment is delayed, the patient can be left with a string of distressing and debilitating injuries, affecting every aspect of their daily lives. Loss of neurological control can lead to double incontinence, sexual dysfunction and weakness of the legs.

How common is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is thought to occur in 1 3 people per 100,000 in the UK, being the diagnosis of only 0.04% of all patients presenting with lower back pain. Therefore, experiencing back pain alone does not mean that you are likely to have cauda equina syndrome.

It is mostly caused by a herniated disc and constitutes approximately only 2 6% of all lumbar disc operations.

It can be seen, therefore, that it is not a common condition.

Complications of cauda equina syndrome

However, the management of cauda equina syndrome can be extremely time-pressured and delayed diagnosis or treatment can result in lengthy, complex and costly compensation claims. Over a five year period, the NHS Litigation Authority, which deals with claims against the service, dealt with 80 cauda equina syndrome claims, equating to more than a dozen claims per year. These claims were worth an average of more than £200,000 each.

Why do claims occur?

Fortunately, it is estimated that 75% of patients who develop cauda equina syndrome will achieve a positive outcome, regaining control of bowel and urinary function.

However, 20% are likely to end up with a poor outcome with long-term loss of function as described above. This, in turn, is likely to affect their ability to work and socialise as well as impacting on the very place they live in, requiring alterations to the home or a move to different accommodation.

Whose responsibility is a poor outcome?

It is generally agreed that, for a patient with the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome but who still retains some sensation of urinary function, decompression surgery within 48 hours is imperative. Therefore, where cauda equina syndrome is suspected in a patient, an urgent MRI to confirm diagnosis and emergency treatment are vital.

Where these things do not occur, the medical practitioners may be guilty of negligence.

Medical Negligence

Where negligence appears to have occurred, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation for the damage caused by the delay and the on-going effects of cauda equina syndrome.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss your circumstances if you have been the victim of delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome. We have considerable experience of making successful claims for the long-term effects of this appalling condition.

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"Before we contacted you we had no real idea that we had grounds for a medical negligence claim but after speaking to you if became clear that Wendy was indeed treated poorly. Chris took the time to explain what was happening and kept us to speed. Our deepest gratitude to you all and Chris in particular."

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