What is cauda equina syndrome?
Cauda equina syndrome is a rare and severe narrowing of the spinal canal usually caused by a prolapsed intervertebral disc.
The bundle of delicate nerves in the lower back, known as the ‘cauda equina’ (horse’s tail), suddenly becomes severely compressed, causing problems such as numbness and weakness in the legs, numbness between the legs, not being able to urinate or control the bladder and loss of bowel control.
The condition can progress quickly and requires emergency hospital admission and surgery.
Diagnosis and treatment of cauda equina syndrome
Diagnosis requires the presence of specific symptoms and radiological imaging.
Previous red flags for diagnosis set a high threshold for urgent investigation, meaning some patients were not referred for treatment, or were referred too late and left with a permanent disability.
The updated NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) on cauda equina red flags are now more explicit and enable earlier referral, and could have a significant impact on patient safety.
Dr Gerry Morrow, Medical Director at Clarity Informatics, who oversees the CKS on cauda equina syndrome for NICE, said: “We know that primary care clinicians rely on the Clinical Knowledge Summaries as a source of trusted information. We are always looking for expert advice on improving our recommendations. It has been an extremely valuable process working with MPS and their experts on this topic. We are delighted with the improved cauda equina red flag information, which has resulted from this collaboration.”
Inez Brown, Partner and Head of Clinical Negligence, from Medical Accident Group said: “The early diagnosis of cauda equina is absolutely essential to minimise the risk of the patient developing incontinence or worse, a permanent disability. Any delay in identifying or managing this condition can have devastating consequences. We welcome the news that a more stringent set of guidelines have been recommended to identify cases of cauda equina in their earlier stages.”
As an experienced firm, we have managed to secure an award of compensation for many clients who have suffered the consequence of a negligent delay in diagnosing cauda equina and life changing conditions. If you have suffered from poor treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors, with over 30 years’ experience, who will guide you through the process of making a claim. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668.