Cauda Equina Syndrome is a medical condition that is typically caused by injury or surgery. The condition occurs when the nerves at the base of the spinal cord are compressed. If left untreated, the patient can suffer long-term nerve damage. This can result in issues with the lower extremities and the organs of the pelvic region.
This condition is considered a medical emergency, so it’s important that all medical professionals be well-trained to evaluate patients for Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES).
Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Awareness is important in order to get quick treatment and prevent permanent damage and suffering. Symptoms vary in intensity and may evolve over a longer period of time. This makes it hard to recognize at times.
Some of these symptoms involve very personal bodily functions, which may be hard for patients to talk about their ailments. Those include, but are not limited to:
- Weakness in legs
- Saddle anesthesia
- Severe pain in radicular patterns
- Loss of knee and ankle reflexes
- Bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction
- Neurogenic pain
The latter may only be treatable with strong painkillers that could cause high risks for the overall condition of the patient.
How Do Doctors Diagnose CES?
When a patient presents with red flag symptoms of CES, medical professionals should quickly perform certain tests to diagnose or rule out the condition. These tests may include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows the doctor to see the spinal cord, nerve roots and intervertebral discs.
- Myelogram is a procedure involving the injection of a liquid dye into the spinal column followed by an X-ray of the spinal canal. This can reveal pressure from a herniated disc or other conditions that may be causing CES.
A doctor should assess strength, reflexes, sensation, alignment, and motion. Tone and numbness of anal muscles will also be examined and a blood sample will be taken.
Delayed diagnosis can cause serious, long-term effects for the patient and may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Cauda Equina Syndrome Treatment
Cauda Equina Syndrome treatment includes preventing permanent damage to the lower extremities and loss of function of bladder and sexual organs.
Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves should occur within 48 hours of the first onset of symptoms. Delays can occur when MRI scans aren’t interpreted correctly, referrals for MRIs or surgery are not sent, or surgery is performed poorly.
Cauda Equina Syndrome treatment varies depending on the medical condition, delay or failure to diagnose. High doses of corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling. If there is no inflammatory component, physical therapy may be used to counteract weakness in the lower extremities.
If the condition is caused by an infection, it should be treated with antibiotics. If a tumor is responsible, radiation or chemotherapy may be needed after surgery.
Other causes of this condition include surgical errors, spinal bleeding, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, meningioma, and neoplasms. Full recovery cannot be guaranteed. If the surgery is successful, bowel and bladder function may return after a few years.
Get Help With A Cauda Equina Lawsuit Today
A person suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome complications may be unable to work because of severe pain, loss of muscle power or continence issues. In addition to pain management, an occupational therapist, social worker, continence advisor or sex therapist should be consulted. These costly medical expenses can quickly take a heavy toll on the patient’s financial situation.
If you’ve been affected by Cauda Equina Syndrome medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Lisa S. Levine is a specialized Cauda Equina attorney based in Florida. She helps clients across the United States to fight for their right to compensation. Contact her today for a free consultation.