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Cauda Equina
How Is Cauda Equina Syndrome Treated?

How Is Cauda Equina Syndrome Treated?

Most cases of cauda equina syndrome must be treated with emergency decompression surgery.

Treating cauda equina syndrome

The treatment needed for cauda equina syndrome ultimately depends upon the underlying cause. Cauda equina syndrome has a number of potential causes, including:

  • Slipped disc
  • Spinal tumour
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Spinal stenosis

The most common cause of cauda equina syndrome is a slipped disc in the lumbar region of the back. The bulging disc presses upon the cauda equina nerves located at the base of the spine, leading to cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome that is caused by a slipped disc must be treated with decompression surgery. This involves placing the patient under general anaesthetic, opening up their lower back and removing whatever is pressing on the nerves.

If the underlying cause of cauda equina syndrome is something other than a slipped disc, a different treatment may be required. For instance, a spinal tumour will require a multi-disciplinary approach that may involve a combination of treatments.

Timing of treatment

Whatever treatment is needed, it must be carried out as quickly as possible. Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency. The nerves are very sensitive and compression will soon cause them serious damage. Within days the damage can be so bad that it is permanent.

To avoid long-term disabilities, cauda equina syndrome must be treated within 24 to 48 hours. Each patient is different, but generally it is accepted that after 48 hours the outcome will not be as good.

If treatment is delayed for too long, the patient can be left with severe dysfunction of the bladder, bowel, sexual organs, legs and feet.

My cauda equina treatment was delayed

Sometimes the treatment for cauda equina syndrome will not be carried out until the patient has had the condition for several days, weeks or even months. This can occur because the patient did not seek medical help for their symptoms, either through embarrassment or because they were reassured that the cause was benign.

However there are times when treatment is delayed because medical practitioners fail to provide a reasonable standard of care. This might relate to mistakes because made during the diagnosis process, or delays in performing treatment.

Medical negligence claims

A patient who develops cauda equina disabilities because of medical negligence will be legally entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. To begin a claim, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors.

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