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Cauda Equina Syndrome: Outlook For Recovery

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious condition in which nerve roots at the bottom of the spinal cord become compressed. This can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including trauma, slipped disk, tumour or an inflammatory disease.

Whatever the underlying cause, Cauda Equina Syndrome is considered a medical emergency. This means a diagnosis should be made and treatment provided as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that the longer the nerves are compressed, the greater the damage will be. If compression continues for too long, the injury may be irreparable, and a patient will be left with long-term health complications.

Cauda Equina Syndrome and Prognosis

The outlook for recovery is therefore entirely dependent upon:-

1. The severity of nerve damage;

2. The duration of nerve compression.

Occasionally, the severity of nerve damage will be beyond the control of a medical professional. This is particularly true if the injury happened suddenly – for example, a spinal fracture sustained in a traumatic accident (such as a road traffic accident).

Ordinarily, however, the severity of nerve damage will be directly linked to the duration of nerve compression. A typical case of Cauda Equina Syndrome will progress from incomplete to complete. Where the condition is incomplete, a patient will present symptoms such as altered urinary sensation, the inability to void without straining, the loss of need to void, and reduced sensation of genital and groin area. If the problem is identified and treated at this stage, the prospect for recovery is much more favourable. In fact, it is possible a patient will make a full recovery.

But if nerve compression is allowed to continue, the damage will gradually become increasingly extensive until the patient begins to experience symptoms of complete Cauda Equina Syndrome. This includes painless urinary retention, urinary overflow incontinence, and extensive numbness in the genital and groin area. Once a patient reaches this stage, the prospect of a full recovery becomes severely diminished.

Delay in Nerve Decompression and Medical Negligence

If compression continues for a prolonged period of time, in turn causing significant injury to the nerves, it is necessary to consider why there was a delay in nerve decompression. Sometimes patient are embarrassed about the symptoms they are experiencing and put off seeking medical attention. However, we have unfortunately seen many cases in which a delay in treatment can be directly attributed to medical error. For example, if medical professionals fail to make a timely diagnosis, fail to arrange the necessary diagnostic tests or fail to recognise the importance of prompt treatment.

If you have suffered injury as a result of a delay in Cauda Equina treatment, and you believe this was the fault of medical professionals, you should contact a solicitor. This is because you may have been the victim of a substandard level of care, meaning you could be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you have been caused.

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