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Recovering From Cauda Equina Syndrome After Surgery

Cauda equina syndrome must be treated with urgent decompression surgery. A patient may then go on to make a full recovery, although this will depend upon how extensive the nerve damage is.

Recovering from cauda equina surgery

Cauda equina syndrome is when the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord are compressed. Because the nerves are so delicate, any compression will quickly cause an injury, leading to reduced sensation and function in the legs, bladder, saddle area and anus.

This will result in the onset of red flag symptoms which should immediately alert medical professionals to the presence of cauda equina syndrome. If emergency decompression surgery is performed without delay, it is possible a patient will make a good recovery.

During decompression surgery the lesion or bone compressing the nerves will be removed. After surgery, a patient may remain symptomatic, particularly with regard to urinary dysfunction. However, these symptoms will get better with time, and function may continue to improve years after the operation. Therefore a full recovery is possible.

Long-term prognosis

It is generally thought that if the condition is treated while it is still incomplete, a recovery such as the one described above can be achieved. But this may not be possible for those patients who are treated when the condition is complete.

Complete cauda equina syndrome means that the nerve cells have died, leaving a patient will no sensation in their bladder. Consequently there is painless urinary retention in the bladder which will eventually become so full that it overflows, leading to episodes of urinary incontinence.

The prognosis for complete cauda equina syndrome is poor because nerve cells cannot regrow after they die. Therefore even if treatment is subsequently provided it will not be effective because the damage is irreparable. In such cases a patient will face long-term neurological complications.

The nature of these complications will depend upon just how extensive the nerve damage is but can involve the following:-

Has your recovery been hindered by medical error?

If you have been told you will never fully recover from cauda equina syndrome, you need to consider whether substandard medical care is to blame.

For example, did doctors fail to diagnose your condition in a timely fashion, causing a delay in treatment? Did they fail to appreciate the urgency with which decompression surgery should be performed? Could your injuries have been avoided with better medical care? If so, medical professionals will be directly responsible for your disability, for which you will be entitled to claim compensation.

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