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Cauda Equina Syndrome – Why A Quick Diagnosis Is Vital

If a patient is suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome, it is vital a quick diagnosis is made. This will ensure the outlook for recovery remains positive. If, however, there is a delay, the potential for long-term damage becomes increasingly likely.

Diagnosing Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome is associated with certain red flag symptoms. These include lower back and leg pain, bowel and bladder disturbances, saddle anaesthesia and poor motor reflexes. A patient who complains of these symptoms is presenting the typical signs of nerve compression.

The symptoms alone should therefore be sufficient to alert medical professionals to the presence of Cauda Equina Syndrome. Steps should then be taken to confirm whether or not this provisional diagnosis is correct. Notes should be taken regarding a patient’s history to establish whether there has been a recent incidence of trauma. A physical examination should be performed to test muscle strength, lower extremity reflexes and sensation and rectal tone. Lastly, imaging tests should be carried out identify if there is spinal compression, and if so, what the root cause is.

Why is a quick diagnosis so important?

A quick diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome is absolutely essential. This is because the duration of symptoms will usually determine the extent of a patient’s recovery. Indeed, experts say Cauda Equina Syndrome must be treated by way of spinal decompression within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If there is a delay and nerve compression continues for more than 48 hours, it is highly likely that a patient will suffer extensive, irreparable nerve damage. This will result in permanent injuries such as bladder and bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction and severe pain.

It is therefore paramount that a diagnosis is made in a timely fashion, as the need to decompress the nerves is a matter of urgency; if there is a failure to make a quick diagnosis, a patient will be left with long-term complications.

Delay in diagnosis and medical negligence

If a delay in diagnosis was the fault of medical professionals, this will amount to medical negligence. It is possible, for example, that doctors fail to recognise the red flag symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome, fail to order further tests or fail to accurately assess these tests.

If any of the above has happened to you and you have suffered as a result, you need to contact a medical negligence solicitor. This is because you may well have been the victim of medical negligence. If so, you will be entitled to claim compensation for the pain and suffering a delay in diagnosis has caused.

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