When Cauda Equina Syndrome occurs, pressure on the nerve endings at the base of the spine can result in sudden and irrevocable nerve damage, ending in paralysis or loss of sexual function. Because the time between disease onset and lasting damage can be short, a prompt diagnosis is important, as quick surgical treatment often results in positive outcomes.
Luckily, there are a number of tools at a doctor’s disposal when it comes to diagnosing CES. The first step is recognizing the symptoms most commonly associated with Cauda Equina Syndrome, including loss of function of the legs, tingling or other strange sensations in the legs or pelvic girdle, or loss of bowel or bladder control. All of these indicate that nerve damage may have occurred.
Less obvious symptoms may also occur and should be evaluated properly. Lower back pain is often associated with Cauda Equina Syndrome, but it is also associated with a number of other ailments. Asking direct questions about the type of pain, including whether it is sharp or dull, should lead the doctor to the correct diagnostic procedures.
The most important tool for diagnosing CES is a prompt MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. An MRI can show whether a herniated disc may have occurred, or whether the patient is suffering from spinal stenosis. Though other causes of CES exist, lumbar herniation is responsible for the condition the majority of the time, and MRI is the easiest and fastest way to determine whether herniation has occurred.
The most important thing in regards to the MRI is that it must be performed promptly. Doctors may order the scan quickly, but it can be delayed for a variety of reasons. Ordering the procedure is not good enough, as a delay of even a few hours can allow the syndrome to progress to the point of long-term damage to the central nervous system.
If you or someone you love has suffered from Cauda Equina Syndrome, and a prompt MRI was not ordered and performed, consider reaching out to an experienced attorney. Because prompt treatment through surgical intervention usually results in properly alleviating the pressure on the nerve endings without long-term damage being done, failure to move quickly is unacceptable, and a lawyer can guide you through the process of holding doctors and hospitals responsible for their failures.