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Clinical Indicators of Cauda Equina Syndrome

In this article we explore the clinical indicators that should prompt medical professionals to investigate a patient for cauda equina syndrome.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a neurological disorder that occurs when the nerve roots at the bottom of the spine are compressed. This might happen because of a prolapsed disc, a traumatic crushing injury or a spinal tumour.

The nerve roots are called the cauda equina, which is Latin for ‘horse’s tail’. They enable function and sensation in the lower limbs, genitalia and pelvic organs. When they become compressed they will be damaged, causing function and sensation to be lost.

When these problems occur because of cauda equina compression, a person is said to have cauda equina syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome

The typical signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome are:-

Together these symptoms are known as the ‘red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome’, so called because they should alert doctors to the presence of spinal nerve compression.

Diagnosing and treating cauda equina syndrome

If a patient presents with the problems listed above, medical professionals should immediately consider the possibility of cauda equina syndrome and order further investigations. These should include a physical examination and an MRI scan. Blood and urine tests should also be performed in order to rule out other conditions.

Once diagnosed, a patient should undergo urgent decompression surgery. This will alleviate the pressure being placed upon the nerves, preventing further damage. As long as this operation is performed shortly after the onset of symptoms, a patient should avoid long-term complications.

Failure to recognise the clinical indicators of CES

Any reasonably competent doctor should be able to recognise the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. Together these are the clinical indicators that signal the presence of nerve compression. If medical professionals fail to accurately interpret a patient’s symptoms and therefore fail to make a diagnosis, the standard of care will be considered unacceptable.

If this substandard care causes a patient further pain and suffering, there will be grounds for a compensation claim. If this has happened to you or your loved one, you need to get expert legal advice without delay. 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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