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Decompression Surgery for Cauda Equina Syndrome

If you have been diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome, you will require emergency decompression surgery. In this article we explore why decompression surgery is needed, how it is performed and what will happen if there is a delay in treatment.

Why is decompression surgery needed?

Although relatively rare, the nerves located at the bottom of the spinal cord can become compressed. This is known as Cauda Equina Syndrome and commonly happens due to a slipped disc. It is vital that this compression is alleviated, because if the nerves are placed under pressure for too long, they will begin to suffer damage and lose function. Eventually the injury will be so extensive that the nerve cells die, resulting in permanent complications. Urgent lumbar decompression surgery will therefore be required to relieve the pressure.

How is decompression surgery performed?

Decompression surgery is performed under general anaesthetic. You will be laid face down on the operating table which will be curved – this will reduce pressure upon your chest, abdomen and pelvis, and expose the nerves better. The surgeon will then make an incision, allowing him/her to reach your spine.

The exact nature of the procedure will depend upon the underlying cause of nerve compression, but will either involve a laminectomy or a discectomy. A laminectomy is when a piece of bone called the lamina is removed from your vertebra. A discectomy is when an entire section of a vertebral disc is removed. Sometimes both procedures will be required.

What if there is a delay in performing decompression surgery?

As long as lumbar decompression surgery is performed within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, you should avoid suffering any long-term neurological complications. However, if there is a delay, the nerves will suffer so much damage that the nerves will lose function. If the nerve cells die, they will not regenerate, meaning this loss of function will be permanent. You will be left with health problems such as bladder and bowel dysfunction, loss of sensation in the genitalia and partial or total paralysis.

Claiming for Cauda Equina Syndrome

If there is a delay in performing decompression surgery, you need to consider why this happened. If medical error is to blame – for example, because doctors failed to diagnose and treat you in a timely fashion – you could be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering this has caused.

If you believe you have been harmed due to a delay in decompression surgery, 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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