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Cauda Equina
What Is Cauda Equina

What Is Cauda Equina

The cauda equina is a group of nerves located at the bottom of the spine. They provide sensation and enable movement in the legs, genitals, bladder, bowel and rectum.

The nerves begin at the base of the spinal cord and branch downwards through the pelvis, buttocks and legs. It is no coincidence that 'cauda equina' means 'horse tail' in Latin, because early scientists believed that is exactly what they resembled.

Cauda equina damage

Together the cauda equina nerves allow us to do things such as urinate voluntarily, have sensation and power in the legs, and experience sexual sensation. Should the nerves become damaged, these functions will be reduced or lost altogether.

The potential causes of cauda equina damage are numerous, but all of them involve the nerves becoming compressed. One example is a slipped disc in the lower back which protrudes to such an extent that it presses upon the nerves.

Cauda equina compression that results in neurological dysfunction is called cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency. The treatment needed is decompression surgery, which aims to remove whatever is pushing upon the nerves.

Sometimes this is not applicable because compression is happening due to other health issues, such as a spinal tumour. Most patients, however, will require decompression surgery.

Long-term cauda equina injuries

Without emergency decompression surgery, the cauda equina nerves will become severely injured. The cells will die, after which they cannot regenerate and the nerves can never be repaired. The patient's neurological dysfunction will therefore be permanent.

Long-term cauda equina injuries are not fatal, but they are life-changing. The patient may face serious disability, with problems such as urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, sexual dysfunction, difficulty walking and chronic pain.

Cauda equina medical negligence claims

If a patient suffers a poor outcome after cauda equina syndrome, it may be that medical practitioners did not diagnose and treat the condition quickly enough.

Cauda equina syndrome is not a common condition, but it does have a high medico-legal profile because medical mistakes can have such drastic consequences.

Cauda equina claim solicitor

If you think mistakes were made during the diagnosis and treatment of your cauda equina syndrome, please get in touch with our team today. We are cauda equina specialists and can help you pursue a claim for negligence. All our initial enquiries are free of charge and free of obligation.

Call us now for a free, no obligation assessment on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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