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Recognising Acute Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome may present acutely (suddenly) or chronically (slowly). In this article we will explore acute cauda equina syndrome in more detail.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome happens when the cauda equina nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord are compressed. This damages the nerves, resulting in a loss of function. The nerves serve the lower limbs and pelvic organs, meaning the following symptoms will arise:-

Acute cauda equina syndrome

These symptoms may develop gradually over some months. This is known as chronic cauda equina syndrome. On the other hand, symptoms may appear very suddenly and severely. This is known as acute cauda equina syndrome.

The rapid onset of CES often occurs when the nerves become compressed very suddenly. This can include traumatic incidents such as a car crash, a slipped disc or a severe infection. This is opposed to chronic CES which is often caused by slow growing lesions that become progressively larger or more protruded.

Diagnosing acute CES

In many ways it should be easier for doctors to diagnose acute cauda equina syndrome, rather than chronic cauda equina syndrome. This is because the symptoms will develop over a matter of hours. The pain will be very aggressive and the patient will undoubtedly be alarmed, as their problems will appear seemingly out of the blue.

Due to the rapidity with which a patient’s condition deteriorates, medical professionals should appreciate that urgent care is needed. Treatment can only begin once a diagnosis has been confirmed, so no time should be wasted in carrying out medical investigations. A reasonably competent doctor in the UK should recognise the symptoms of spinal nerve compression and order an MRI scan to confirm whether or not this is the case.

Once diagnosed, a patient should be sent for emergency surgery to decompress the nerves. This must be done within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If there is a delay, the damage could be permanent.

Delayed diagnosis of acute CES

If you developed acute cauda equina syndrome but medical professionals did not make a diagnosis in a timely fashion, there may be grounds for a compensation claim. Contact us today to find out more.

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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