Medical researchers love Latin. The cauda equina translated “horses tail” is a group of nerves that run from the bottom of the spinal cord down to the sacral area. These nerves become the lower lumbar and sacral nerve roots that supply function to the organs of the lower pelvis and legs. Cauda equina syndrome(CES) causes of compression of these nerve roots.
Legal Claims & Cauda Equina Syndrome
I have seen a number of legal cases involving CES. First, CES can be caused by any type of accident whether a motor vehicle crash, truck accident, motorcycle accident, slip & fall or worker's compensation injury. In these cases, the client/patient injured a lower lumbar disc causing a herniation or extrusion of the disc material into the spinal canal compressing the cauda equina.
I have seen a number of medical malpractice cases arising from a medical procedure that directing injured the cauda equina. The types of medical malpractice cases that I have been involved include epidural or facet injections or placement of spinal cord stimulators. In these cases, the doctor was in the actual spinal canal, where s/he shouldn't have been, and the nerves were damaged.
CES is a medical emergency. Patients who present with CES have to undergo decompression (pressure taken off of the nerves) immediately. A failure to diagnose CES case arises when a patient presents to a healthcare provider and the healthcare provider fails to recognize CES.
Initially patients may have the following symptoms:
Deep low back and leg pain
Numbness in the groin (saddle anesthesia)
Bowel incontinence – loss of bowel control or function
Bladder incontinence – loss of bladder control or function
Loss of function in the legs
Loss of reflexes in the legs
Diagnosis of CES is based on the clinical presentation and MRI findings. On MRI the doctors will see compression of the caudia equina by disc material, tumor, infection, or some other space occupying lesion.
Immediate decompression is required. Sometimes the spine surgeon can go into the spinal canal using a minimally invasive technique other times the surgeon has to remove bone in the area to take the pressure off of the nerves.
The quicker cauda equina syndrome is diagnosed the better the prognosis. Long term consequences include permanent numbness, weakness or pain in the legs, bladder problems and bowel problems. If the patient was not timely treated or the nerve roots were severely damaged, the patients may have some residual paralysis in the legs.
If you believe that you experienced cauda equina syndrome because of some accident or medical malpractice, call our Indiana spinal cord injury lawyers or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.
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