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Second Cauda Equina Decompression Delayed

Second Cauda Equina Decompression DelayedLate one evening, when Eleanor felt sudden, extreme pain in her lower back and legs, she consulted the out-of-hours service. She was in such pain that she could scarcely move. An ambulance was called and she was taken to her local A&E unit.

Eleanor had already suffered with cauda equina syndrome and was concerned that she might have a slipped disc. Her previous cauda equina syndrome had been promptly diagnosed and her successful surgery had meant that she had made a fairly good recovery, only being left with some numbness as well as back and leg pain.

Once at A&E, Eleanor experienced an episode of bladder incontinence whilst she was waiting and was assisted by nurses to change into a hospital nightdress. She was seen by an orthopaedic consultant who asked her if she felt any numbness but made no enquiries as to bowel or bladder function. Eleanor was discharged home early that morning with pain relief.

Unfortunately, however, Eleanor’s symptoms deteriorated still further and, by mid-morning, she had returned to A&E with numbness around the anus and in the saddle region.

Although an MRI scan was discussed with another hospital, there seemed to be little sense of urgency. Eleanor was reviewed several hours later when it was noted that her pain was increasing and that her ankle reflexes were now absent. It was thought that she was not experiencing incontinence of bowel or bladder, even though Eleanor had commented that she was finding it difficult to urinate.

It was not until late in the evening, however, that it was finally decided to transfer Eleanor to another hospital where she arrived early in the morning. On examination, it was found that she was, in fact, in retention of urine and had lost all anal tone. An urgent MRI scan was carried out and it demonstrated that, as she had suspected, Eleanor had a herniated disc which was impacting on the spinal cord.

Eleanor finally underwent decompression surgery a few hours later.

Due to the delay in diagnosing Eleanor’s disc herniation, she has now been left with distressing on-going symptoms. The functioning of both her bowel and bladder have been seriously impacted and she has a loss of sensation in the saddle region. Her mobility is also restricted and her accommodation has had to be adapted in order to help her to function independently.

Had Eleanor’s symptoms been investigated when she first attended A&E, it is likely that an MRI scan would have identified the herniated disc at that time and Eleanor would have had surgery. It should have been considered at that time that she might have incomplete cauda equina syndrome, as suggested by her symptoms.

Had Eleanor undergone surgery at that time, it would have prevented the deterioration of symptoms which she then experienced and it is likely that she would have made a far better recovery.

Glynns supported Eleanor in her claim for clinical negligence and she received in excess of £1,000,000 in compensation.

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

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