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Recurrent Disc Prolapse and Cauda Equina Syndrome

Although it is very unfortunate, it is possible for someone to suffer a second slipped disc, resulting in a second episode of cauda equina syndrome.

Disc prolapse and cauda equina syndrome

A prolapsed disc is when the inner part of a vertebral disc pokes through a weakness in the outer layer, pressing upon the surrounding structures.

If a prolapse occurs in the lower back, it is possible that it will compress the nerves located at the bottom of the spine, which are called the cauda equina nerves. This will damage the nerves, impairing function and leading to a condition known as cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome is characterised by lower back pain, sciatic pain, urinary dysfunction, saddle anaesthesia and reduced anal tone. If the nerves are not decompressed in time, these symptoms will be permanent.

Recurrent disc prolapse

Even if cauda equina syndrome is properly treated the first time, there is a 5% risk that the disc will slip a second time. This will of course be very unfortunate, but it cannot be blamed upon medical practitioners.

Indeed, even if cauda equina syndrome is appropriately managed the first time round, the disc will still be very weak. It is unusual for the surgeon to remove the disc entirely, and most will choose to shave away the part of the disc compressing the nerves. This is standard practice as removing the disc is a very complex procedure.

Therefore most surgeons will perform a micro discectomy, as it is less risky and the chance of a recurrent prolapse is really very small. Nevertheless, no matter how unlikely, it is possible for a patient to suffer cauda equina syndrome from a prolapsed disc for a second time.

Managing a recurrent prolapse

If a patient does suffer a second bout of cauda equina syndrome, it remains vital that the condition is diagnosed and treated immediately.

The fact that a patient has a history of cauda equina compression should make medical practitioners alert to the possibility of a recurrent disc prolapse. This should expedite a diagnosis, ensuring a patient receives timely decompression surgery.

If medical practitioners fail to realise that a patient has recurring cauda equina syndrome, the level of care will be deemed substandard. If this causes a patient to incur unnecessary injuries, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claims.

Cauda equina claims

If you would like to know more about making a cauda equina claim, please get in touch with us today.

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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