Cauda Equina Syndrome, which occurs when significant pressure builds on the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine, is often associated with clear, emergent symptoms, such as sudden loss of feeling in the legs or loss of bowel control. Though such clear indications of this dangerous syndrome do occur, there are also patients who experience slowly escalating symptoms over days or even weeks.
Early symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome may not result in a visit to the Emergency Room. Examples of early symptoms that may be difficult to recognize as associated with an emergent situation include:
- Retention of urine, which occurs when the bladder is not fully emptied while urinating
- Disruption in sexual performance, including difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection
- Tingling in the legs
Though these symptoms are worrisome, many patients will schedule with their General Practitioner in these situations. It is up to the doctor to recognize the potential dangers of these symptoms, and to order tests to determine their cause.
An MRI of the area should be performed when symptoms indicate potential nerve damage is taking place, with a particular focus on spinal stenosis or disc herniation in the area of the spine responsible for innervating the legs. Unfortunately, doctors will sometimes order an outpatient MRI to be scheduled days or even weeks later, at which point the pressure may continue to build until the situation becomes emergent or significant damage is already done.
If you or someone you love has suffered from Cauda Equina Syndrome, and a prompt diagnosis was not made, please consider consulting with a qualified attorney. An experienced lawyer and medical experts can help you evaluate the progression of your symptoms to determine whether or not quicker diagnosis and treatment may have resulted in a better outcome.