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Cauda Equina Syndrome Surgery

The only way to effectively treat Cauda Equina Syndrome is with emergency decompression surgery. This must be performed before the condition reaches the complete stages.

Treating cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is when the nerve roots at the bottom of the spinal cord become compressed, either by the spine itself or by a lesion (such as a tumour). When this happens, the delicate nerve fibres will become damaged and begin to lose function. This will lead to certain symptoms, such as problems urinating, altered bowel habits and perineal numbness. Once these symptoms appear, a patient is said to have Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Anyone suspected of suffering from compression of the cauda equina must be urgently referred to hospital. A physical examination should then be carried out to confirm the extent of rectal tone, perineal numbness and reduced mobility. If the results of these tests still point towards nerve root compression, an MRI scan must be performed without delay, as this will help confirm or exclude a diagnosis. If Cauda Equina Syndrome is indeed present, emergency decompression surgery must be performed immediately.

What does cauda equina syndrome surgery involve?

Decompression surgery involves making an incision across the lower back to enable access to the lower part of the spine, known as the lumbar. A patient will lie on their front on a curved mattress. This will relieve pressure from the chest, while the arched spine will better expose the compressed nerves.

The surgical technique that follows will depend upon how extensive the problem is. Generally speaking patients with Cauda Equina Syndrome will need a laminectomy, where an area of the bone is removed from the vertebrae, and/or a discectomy, where a section of the damaged disc is removed. Some patients may also require a spinal fusion, where the two or more vertebrae are fused together with a skin graft.

Why is decompression surgery an emergency?

This operation must be performed without delay. If the procedure is postponed, the nerves will become so damaged that the cells die. Once this happens they cannot regenerate, meaning a patient will be left with permanent neurological dysfunction. The only way to avoid this is to decompress the nerves, before the injury becomes irreversible.

If, however, there is a delay and this can be attributed to the actions of medical professionals (because, for example, they did not make a timely diagnosis or appreciate the need to perform urgent surgery) there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

If you would like to know more about making a compensation claim for Cauda Equina Syndrome, contact us today at the Cauda Equina Solicitors.

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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