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Cauda Equina
Wind Incontinence After Cauda Equina Syndrome

Wind Incontinence After Cauda Equina Syndrome

The long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome can create situations social and professional - that are difficult to manage. Wind incontinence is a particularly problematic outcome.

The impact of cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition of the lumbar region of the spine which causes neurological loss of function in the lower part of the body.

The condition is caused by the compression of the cauda equina nerves found at the base of the spinal cord. These nerves normally control the functioning of the muscles in the pelvic area and the legs and feet, as well as the experience of sensation in those areas. Consequently, when the nerves become compressed or squashed, they may cease to function, causing a range of problems, including tingling or numbness in the legs, foot drop, urinary dysfunction and bowel dysfunction.

Bowel Dysfunction

The opening and closing of the bowel is controlled by the anal sphincter, the muscles that allow faeces and wind (flatus) to pass through and out of the anus. As well as allowing wind and stools to pass out of the bowel, properly functioning sphincter muscles can also prevent them leaving the body until an appropriate moment.

However, where the nerves that control these actions have stopped working, it becomes impossible to control the function of the bowel.

This can lead to faecal incontinence where the patient cannot control the passage of waste and requires a colostomy to divert waste into a bag via the abdominal wall.

It can, of course, also lead to the inability to control the passing of wind or gas. There is little, if anything, that can be done to prevent or control this problem. Socially, this could be embarrassing, but, professionally, it could be unacceptable, and may make it impossible for the sufferer to undertake certain types of work. This is likely to be professions that require interactions with the general public or close-quarters working environments.

Treating cauda equina syndrome

When cauda equina syndrome is diagnosed promptly and treated urgently, there is a high chance of a good recovery and it is to be hoped that the patient would regain control of the urinary and anal area.

If diagnosis and treatment are delayed, however, the chances of a positive outcome are considerably reduced. Where a patient loses urinary function before decompression surgery, they are more likely to be left with permanent negative effects.

It is clear, therefore, that prompt action is necessary where cauda equina syndrome may be a possibility, ensuring a timely and accurate diagnosis, enabling medical practitioners to determine the best timing for surgery.

Was your treatment delayed?

If you have been left with life-changing symptoms such as faecal and wind incontinence, that have affected the way you live your life, you may want to talk to a solicitor. It is possible that you are entitled to make a claim for compensation for the effects which you have suffered.

Glynns Solicitors are specialists in medical negligence and have extensive experience of cauda equina syndrome cases. Contact us to discuss your case.

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