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Cauda Equina Syndrome: When To Go To Hospital

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency that must be treated with immediate surgical decompression. Therefore you must go to hospital as soon as you develop the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome.

Red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome

The red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome are:

If you have the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, you must go to hospital straight away as you are displaying the characteristic symptoms of spinal nerve compression.

What will happen in hospital?

In hospital, you should undergo a thorough neurological examination. A doctor should test the reflexes in your lower limbs, the amount of sensation in your saddle area and the laxity of your anal tone. Other tests, such as blood and urine tests, should also be conducted to rule out other conditions – for example, a urinary tract infection.

If the test results and examination correspond with a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome, you should be sent for an emergency MRI scan. Ideally this will be carried out within four hours. An MRI scan is the only way to confirm whether or not the cauda equina nerves are being compressed. A diagnosis cannot be achieved without a scan.

If the scan shows that you do have cauda equina syndrome, you will be placed on the list for emergency surgical decompression. This should be performed the same day or night. It is important that surgery is not delayed as there is only a small window of opportunity in which to successfully treat cauda equina syndrome.

Is there any reason surgery will be delayed?

Surgery may be delayed if you are already in retention, meaning that you have lost control over your bladder. Patients with cauda equina syndrome in retention may undergo urgent surgery, rather than emergency surgery.

Surgery may also be delayed if medical practitioners fail to make a diagnosis, or fail to appreciate the urgency with which treatment is required. If treatment is delayed because of medical errors such as these, there will be a case of medical negligence.

For more information about claiming compensation for cauda equina syndrome, please get in touch with us today.

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