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Cauda Equina Syndrome Caused By Infection

If a spinal infection occurs, it is possible that this will lead to another serious condition called cauda equina syndrome.

Causes of cauda equina syndrome

The spinal cord runs from the brain, down through the spinal column and then branches off into a bundle of nerves called the cauda equina, so called because it looks like a horse’s tail. These nerves enable function of the pelvic organs and provide sensation to the legs, genitalia and buttocks.

The cauda equina nerves are very sensitive and can quickly become damaged if any pressure is placed upon them. But unfortunately the cauda equina nerves can become compressed, with a slipped disc being the most common cause.

If this pressure is not alleviated, the nerves will become so injured that they are unable to function properly. This will result in symptoms such as bladder dysfunction and loss of sensation in the saddle area. Once spinal nerve compression leads to these symptoms, a patient is said to have cauda equina syndrome.

How does infection cause cauda equina syndrome?

A spinal infection can also cause cauda equina syndrome. Such infections include an epidural abscess, osteomyelitis and post-operative infection. This happens because the bacteria that cause the infection will multiply and spread. If the bacteria reach the cauda equina nerves, they will damage the nerves, causing them to lose function in the same way that compression will.

Treating a spinal infection

It is vital that the spinal infection is treated as soon as possible. This is because when the cauda equina nerves are harmed, the injury cannot be readily undone. Time is therefore of the essence.

If a spinal infection is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, a patient stands a good chance of making a recovery. But any longer than 48 hours and the nerves will be so damaged that the cells will have died, after which they will not regrow. A patient will subsequently face the long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome, including urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and a degree of paralysis.

Delayed diagnosis of a spinal infection

If you have had a spinal infection that was not treated in a timely fashion, in turn leading to the complications associated with cauda equina syndrome, you will be considered the innocent victim of medical negligence. This means that doctors did not provide an acceptable level of care, causing you to suffer unnecessary injury.

If this is something to have affected you or your loved one, speak to a solicitor about claiming compensation for medical negligence. Contact us at the Cauda Equina Solicitors to find out more.

Please call us free on 0800 234 3300, from a mobile click to call 01275 334030 or complete our Free Online Enquiry for a no cost, no obligation opinion.

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