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Cauda Equina is a life changing spinal cord injury. Many claims arise as a result of mistakes that happen when medical professionals fail to consider this rare condition when assessing a patient and often arise from GPs or (junior) A&E doctors mistaking the patient’s symptoms for more minor conditions, such as back pain or sciatica.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is a rare but serious neurological condition caused by compression of the nerves in the spinal column. ‘Cauda equina’ is the name given to the nerve roots at the base of the spinal cord. The cauda equina nerve roots emerge from the holes between the vertebrae (bones in the spine) and fan out into a bundle of fibres - like a horse’s tail. ‘Cauda equina’ is Latin for ‘horse’s tail’.

These nerves are important for the lower body. Some control the legs and feet. Others give feeling and control to the bladder, bowel, anal and genital areas. Cauda equina syndrome or CES occurs when these nerve roots are compressed or squashed. CES is a medical emergency. The nerve root compression which leads to CES can be caused by:

  • slipped disc (disc prolapse)
  • physical trauma or injury to the lower back area
  • tumours
  • infection and inflammation

Cauda equina syndrome requires emergency surgery. If not treated urgently, it can leave an individual with permanent and devastating disabilities.

Starting your cauda equina syndrome claim

To help investigate your cauda equina syndrome claim, we will obtain medical records, any investigation documentation and treatment protocols. We will then take a detailed witness statement from you and others as necessary and instruct independent medical experts to consider the care you received and the consequences for you of the failings in your care.

The defendant may accept responsibility for your cauda equina syndrome as a result of negligent care, and we may be able to negotiate the appropriate compensation award at this point.

If settlement is not achieved, our cauda equina solicitors will start court proceedings and take your case towards trial keeping the defendant under pressure to agree settlement of your claim. Over 95% of cases succeed without the need for trial but every case is prepared on the basis that a judge will need to decide all the issues in your claim that the defendant has not admitted.

 

Cauda equina syndrome claims frequently asked questions

Why choose Boyes Turner?

Boyes Turner’s spinal injury specialists have over 30 years’ experience of successfully handling cauda equina syndrome claims. We understand exactly what can and does go wrong and when a claim is likely to succeed.

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What causes cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is caused by compression of a group of nerves, which can be very susceptible to injury. These nerves supply the muscles of the legs, the bladder, the bowel, and genitals. If the pressure is relieved quickly, the nerves should recover without leaving the individual with permanent disability. Causes of cauda equina syndrome include:

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What are the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:

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Why is cauda equina syndrome a medical emergency?

When the nerves at the base of the spine are squashed, this causes pain, weakness, numbness, and disability. Without emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves, this disability can very quickly become permanent.

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Can the condition be reversed?

Surgeons working in this field of medicine will say that urgent surgery can prevent symptoms getting worse and can sometimes allow the patient to fully recover. However, once permanent damage has been caused to the spinal cord, reversal of symptoms is unlikely.

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What can lead to a cauda equina negligence claim?

Cauda equina may be missed when a doctor:

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How can compensation for a cauda equina claim help?

Each client’s injury and the way it affects them is unique. Their compensation award takes this into account and reflects their individual circumstances.

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How can you prove cauda equina syndrome was treated negligently?

Guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the British Association of Spine Surgeons (BASS) and the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS), together with recognised standards of good practise, all require doctors to recognise and react quickly to red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES).

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How can specialist cauda equina solicitors help me with my case?

As experts in successful cauda equina cases, we know the issues that the court needs to determine, and the information that independent medical experts will need to form their opinions.  The key to winning a cauda equina claim is being able to give the court detailed and accurate evidence of the nature, timing, and sequence of our client’s signs and symptoms.

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Cauda equina cases

£1.33million compensation for a client whose permanent disability from CES was caused by delays in surgical decompression after an our-of-hours GP failed to recognise red flag signs of cauda equina and immediately refer him to hospital.  Interim (advance payments) of £70,000 helped meet our client's urgent needs whilst we pursued his claim. 

£800,000 compensation for a 40-year-old man after his GP failed to examine him and recognise red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES). The failure to diagnose CES led to delays in surgical treatment, including a lumbar discectomy and decompression operation. He has permanent bowel and bladder damage, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. In addition to his settlement, our client received an admission of liability and letter of apology from the GP.

£400,000 compensation for a woman whose red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome were not recognised by her GP or hospital A&E staff. Her condition was finally recognised by a physiotherapist who referred her to a consultant spinal surgeon after our client paid for a private MRI scan. She underwent surgery but had already suffered permanent disability, including bowel and bladder incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, altered sensation around her left perianal region, buttock and left thigh, and psychological injury.

£275,000 compensation for a client with a history of back pain whose GP failed to recognise his red flag signs of cauda equina syndrome and refer him to hospital as a medical emergency. When our client attended A&E three days later, an MRI scan revealed a lumbar disc prolapse with cauda equina. He underwent emergency surgical decompression but was left with permanent disability, including fatigue, leg pain and weakness, and impaired urinary, bowel and sexual function, as a result of the GP’s delay in referring him to hospital.

£250,000 compensation for a client with a history of back pain and surgery, who suffered permanent disability after hospital delays in diagnosis of signs of CES. She was finally referred for emergency spinal surgery after arranging a private appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon via her health insurance. She now has permanent disability from severe pain and numbness in her leg and foot, lack of sensation in the ‘saddle’ area, impaired bowel and bladder control, and a psychological injury.

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Meet your specialist team

Our specialist Cauda equina syndrome claims team are considered leaders in the field and have a significant amount of expertise.
Susan Brown photo

Susan Brown

Partner

Julie Marsh headshot

Julie Marsh

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle headshot

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Sita Soni headshot

Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand photo

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Rachel Makore headshot

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Tara Pileggi-Byrne photo

Tara Pileggi-Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

Alpa Rana headshot

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Ben Ireland headshot

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Alice Carley headshot

Alice Carley

Paralegal

Audrey Elmore headshot

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Nicky Melville headshot

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Susan Brown photo
Julie Marsh headshot
Richard Money-Kyrle headshot
Sita Soni headshot
Vanessa Wand photo
Rachel Makore headshot
Tara Pileggi-Byrne photo
Alpa Rana headshot
Fran Rothwell
Ben Ireland headshot
Alice Carley headshot
Audrey Elmore headshot
Nicky Melville headshot

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What our clients say

"Amazing support"

Fran has been an amazing support through a very difficult time for me and my family. Always available to speak and kept me in the loop with anything happening, she has been so kind, and I thank her so much for helping and getting my mum the justice she deserved.

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I approached Boyes Turner after my claim was turned down by one of the Medical Negligence Claim company. My wife was a victim of medical negligence.

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I came to Boyes Turner desperate after searching the web for a firm to use for my sons case. He was only a few months so my mind was all over the place, but from the very first point of contact I felt a sense of relieve and belonging. I was welcomed and looked after by amazing staff who always communicated everything so well and went the extra mile to explain things and ensure I understood what was happening every step of the way (THANK YOU SUSAN BROWN). Susan was amazing I felt like I not only had a solicitor but someone who understood my emotions as a mother and always handled me with so much compassion and that was all I needed to keep me going for the 6 years of the case. Years went by in a breeze because of how professional Boyes Turner was. I am so greatful I went through it all with them and mananged to get my son a good compensation. We look forward our new life where my sons needs are priority after struggling for so long. Thank you Boyes Turner and thank you Susan Brown. My family and I are ever indebted.

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