Cauda Equina Syndrome Misdiagnosis - Spinal Injuries Awareness Month

Insights / / Bristol

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a rare condition that can have devastating consequences for the sufferer if not diagnosed and treated quickly.

Whilst in some cases a medical practitioner is unable to prevent a patient suffering from this condition, it is sometimes the case that irreversible damage has occurred as a result of the delay in diagnosis of CES.

What is CES?

NHS UK state that CES is a rare and severe type of spinal stenosis (abnormal narrowing) where all of the nerves in the lower back suddenly become severely compressed. Symptoms can include weakness or numbness in both legs, numbness in the buttocks, and inability to control one’s bladder and/or bowel.

Medical negligence and CES

In one 2004 case, a 49-year-old woman was awarded £500,000 following her diagnosis of CES. The patient was in hospital after having successful spinal surgery. However, she began to experience urinary incontinence and numbness in her lower limbs. Unfortunately, the surgeon in charge of her care failed to act upon this and discharged her home. The patient returned to A+E where she was diagnosed with CES and had further surgery. Unfortunately, the patient was left with long term consequences including loss of sexual function, reduced mobility and double incontinence, for which she needed further surgery.

In a more recent 2013 case, a man received £750,000 after developing CES and suffering from neuropathic pain, incontinence and sexual dysfunction as a result. The patient started experiencing difficulty with urinating, despite feeling the sensation of needing to urinate all the time. He also had a strange tingling and numbness in his right leg and saddle area (the perineum). He was taken to hospital in an ambulance where he was seen by a doctor who requested an x-ray, which was reported as normal. As such, the doctor sent the patient home with no advice. 24 hours later the patient’s pain had drastically increased and returned to hospital, where he was diagnosed with CES. It was found that, if the patient had been operated on when he first attended hospital, he would have normal bowel, bladder and sexual function.

Medical negligence solicitors supporting CES sufferers

If you or someone close to you has suffered or is suffering from CES as a result of negligent treatment, it may be possible to make a claim. 

Here at Metcalfes we have an experienced team who specialise in cases involving negligent treatment and we can help guide you through the claims process in a sympathetic and understanding manner.

Paula Hill

Paula Hill Managing Associate

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