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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Poor Advice Leaves Patient with Cauda Equina Syndrome

Poor Advice Leaves Patient with Cauda Equina Syndrome

A failure to consider the implications of his symptoms and a lack of clear advice meant that Marcus experienced little improvement when his cauda equina decompression surgery was eventually carried out.

Marcus had never really suffered with back problems but became concerned when some lower back pain deteriorated following a bout of sneezing.

As the pain continued to increase and he began to experience tingling and numbness in his left leg, Marcus made an appointment to see his GP. Marcus was advised to take pain relief and a referral was made for a physiotherapy appointment.

Despite seven further appointments with his GP over the next three to four weeks, his pain relief was failing to deal with the problem and Marcus realised that he was starting to lose feeling in his left buttock. When this spread to affect his right buttock, Marcus contacted his surgery again. They arranged for a GP to visit him at home the following day as he continued to be in severe pain.

In fact, given that Marcus was beginning to experience symptoms in his right buttock as well as his left, his GP should have been alerted to the possibility that he was developing cauda equina syndrome. Marcus should have undergone a thorough examination at this point, with the possibility of an emergency referral for an MRI scan.

When the doctor attended Marcus at home the following day, Marcus explained that he was now also losing both bowel and bladder sensation. He could not feel himself when he urinated or when he opened his bowels. Thankfully, the doctor recognised that these were red flag symptoms and gave Marcus a referral letter to attend hospital immediately.

Strangely, when Marcus was reviewed at hospital, his loss of feeling relating to bowel and bladder function was not identified and he was sent home to await an MRI scan the following day. His examination at this time did, however, identify reduced anal tone and this should have prompted an emergency scan. However, this did not occur and Marcus duly returned home, coming back to hospital the following morning for his scan.

Following the scan, Marcus was advised that he had a herniated disc and that he could undergo surgery or attempt a more conservative strategy. At this point, Marcus should have been advised that emergency surgery was necessary and that any delay could bring about disabling symptoms. Such extreme urgency was not, however, made clear to Marcus who returned home to consider the options.

Marcus decided to go ahead with surgery and advised his consultant. However, he still did not realise the urgency of his situation.

Three days later, however, Marcus woke to realise that he had lost feeling between the legs and had been doubly incontinent. He attended Accident and Emergency where the urgency of his situation was recognised and he was transferred to another hospital where he underwent emergency decompression surgery to his lower back.

Sadly, this had all happened too late. Marcus had deteriorated to complete cauda equina syndrome during the delays and surgery did not bring about the recovery he had hoped for.

He now continues to suffer with episodes of incontinence and loss of feeling in the saddle area between the legs.

Marcus asked Glynns to investigate the quality of his medical care and, following the reports of our medical experts, he was awarded in excess of £200,000 in compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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