HomePersonalPersonal InjurySpinal InjuriesCauda Equina Syndrome (CES)

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES)

The cauda equina refers to the group of nerves at the end of the spinal cord and includes both motor and sensory nerves for one’s legs and bladder. When an individual suffers a spinal injury through compression of the nerve roots in the spine of their lower back (known as the lumbar spine), cauda equina syndrome (‘CES’) may develop.

The salient effect of cauda equina syndrome is that sensation and mobility are impaired, and this will detrimentally impact the nerves controlling the bladder and bowel. Hence, it is imperative that one receives efficient and effective treatment within 12 to 48 hours of symptoms developing, so as to mitigate any adverse effects to the spinal nerves.

Cauda equina syndrome can develop as a result of several factors. These include slipped discs, injuries to the lower back, tumours in the spinal area, infection, birth defects, and medical negligence, including that caused during surgery.

Moreover, there is a plethora of symptoms associated with cauda equina syndrome. The most common amongst these is retention of urine within the bladder, such that one does not sense it or experience the urge to urinate. Lower back pain, incontinence, and sexual dysfunction are further symptoms, as are sciatica and feelings of numbness in the saddle region of the body, legs, and groin.

Should one experience these symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately so as to prevent potentially devastating consequences. Typically, an MRI will be performed to determine if one has developed cauda equina syndrome and whether emergency surgery is necessary. Whilst swift medical treatment will not necessarily guarantee a full recovery, it will relieve pressure on the nerves and reduce the likelihood of permanent damage to the bowel and bladder, paralysis, paranaesthesia, pain, and/or loss of sexual sensation.

There are two predominant instances in which cauda equina claims arise. First, a patient may have received inadequate surgery and consequently developed cauda equina syndrome. Alternatively, a GP or doctor may have failed to appropriately recognise the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, thereby resulting in a lack of or unsuitable treatment, and this will only serve to exacerbate the situation.

A diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome can have an incredibly debilitating effect on one’s life. Surgical intervention will be required and the fallout from this will be more challenging, both physically and socially. The emotional effects too cannot be overlooked. Everyday aspects of one’s life can be altered irreparably; for example, through experiencing difficulties with walking or by facing an inability to work. As a result, rehabilitation and therapy will often be required.

At Lavelle Partners, we appreciate the profound impact that living with cauda equina syndrome has on the lives of individuals and their families. Compensation will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, such as the severity of the individual’s injuries, and whilst receiving such compensation will not remove the physical and psychological burdens that those living with the condition endure on a daily basis, it will ensure that the correct supports and facilities are in place. By engaging with one of our cauda equina syndrome solicitors, we will endeavour to make this happen.

For further information on making a claim for cauda equina syndrome, please contact our cauda equina solicitors, Avril Scally, Partner and Head of the Medical Negligence Department and Nicholas Moore, Medical Negligence Solicitor, on (01) 644 5800 or by email at law@lavellepartners.ie.

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