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Urine in Retention – Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome causes urinary retention. In this article we explore urinary retention in more detail, explaining what it is and what treatment must be provided.

Urinary retention from cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves – which sit at the base of the spine – are compressed. Cauda equina compression will cause the nerves harm, thereby affecting their function.

The cauda equina nerves serve various parts of the body, including providing function and sensation to the bladder. Cauda equina nerve damage will consequently lead to the loss of feeling in the bladder. It will also make it hard for the bladder to relax.

Both of these things can make it difficult for the person in question to urinate. There will be poor flow, reduced urethral sensation and it may be necessary to strain in order to pass urine. All this means that the individual will have trouble fully emptying their bladder.

However, due to the lack of sensation he/she may not be aware that there is still urine within the bladder. When a person has a significant volume of urine in the bladder despite having just been to the toilet, he/she is said to have ‘retained urine’ or ‘urinary retention’.

Treating urinary retention from cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome must be treated before a patient develops complete urinary retention.

Urinary retention is a red flag symptom of cauda equina syndrome and it will get progressively worse over time. Once there is a total loss of bladder sensation and control, the patient will not be aware of the need to pass urine. The bladder will become so full over urine that it overflows, causing an episode of incontinence. When this happens the patient has got complete urinary retention.

Complete urinary retention indicates that the nerves have become extensively damaged. Treatment can be provided thereafter, but it might not improve the prognosis. The patient may therefore be left with neurological complications for the rest of their life.

To prevent permanent nerve damage, surgical treatment must be given as soon as possible. Specifically, decompression surgery is required to relieve the pressure being placed upon the nerves.

Failure to treat

If medical practitioners fail to treat cauda equina syndrome before it reaches the complete stage, it is possible that there has been a case of medical negligence. To find out more, please contact our cauda equina solicitors today.

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