Serious Complications From Failing to Diagnose a Spinal Epidural Abscess
It is expected that our healthcare providers will be able to recognize and diagnose serious health issues when they are provided with the appropriate information and signs. It is no easy task to diagnose one of many diseases based on medical history and reported symptoms which is why we have developed such advanced medical imaging technology and have doctors go through such rigorous education. Despite their years of training and available medical imaging, many healthcare providers can be negligent in their diagnosis which can result in serious consequences for a patient.
One specific ailment that healthcare providers can misdiagnose or fail to diagnose is a spinal epidural abscess. A spinal epidural abscess is defined as a collection of pus and infected material within the epidural space of the spine which is between the spinal cord and the bony vertebrae. It is a rare disorder but a nonetheless serious one that can be fatal if left untreated.
Symptoms of a Spinal Epidural Abscess
The symptoms that one can expect from a spinal epidural abscess can begin to display within a few days or sometimes week after the onset of the disorder. It is incredibly important to recognize these symptoms of spinal epidural abscess as soon as possible since delayed diagnosis can lead to long-term complications like neural damage and paralyzation.
Back pain: a person with a spinal epidural abscess will experience pain throughout most of the disorders progression. This is one of the first recognizable symptoms of this disorder where pain is experienced in the general area of the abscess.
Fever: The body will react to the infection aspect of the abscess with fever and smaller symptoms associated with it like temperature, weakness, night sweats, etc..
Bowel or bladder incontinence: in the mid stage of the abscess developing, the neurological symptoms such as incontinence and bowel/bladder control start to appear. Since those neurological functions travel along the spinal cord, pressure from an abscess can disrupt those signals.
Difficulty urinating: Like the aforementioned incontinence, bladder and bowel functions can be difficult to control on the opposite way as well.
Weakness in the legs: Neural pathways that allow control of the legs can damaged or interfered with by pressure from an spinal epidural abscess.
Causes of a Spinal Epidural Abscess
Most spinal epidural abscesses are caused by some form of infection of the spine. Sometimes the infection can actually come from fungus instead of the usual bacterial infection. The infection that causes the abscess can also be caused by infection spread through blood or by infections spreading from elsewhere in the body like a urinary tract infection. What is concerning is that sometimes there is no source of infection found in certain cases of a spinal epidural abscess.
A spinal epidural abscess may be seen in people with any of the following:
- Bloodstream infections
- Recent back surgery or another invasive procedure involving the spine
- Bone infections of the spine (vertebral osteomyelitis)
- Boils, especially on the back
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Spinal Epidural Abscess Diagnosis
Diagnosis of a spinal epidural abscess is imperative when symptoms of back pain and fever along with a medical history containing of the aforementioned high risk causes is discovered. When these symptoms are present and recognized, a healthcare provider should make testing for the possibility of a spinal epidural abscess a priority.
Methods of testing for a spinal epidural abscess include:
- MRI of the spine
- CT scan of the spine
- Blood cultures to check for bacteria in the blood
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Draining of abscess and examination of the material
- Urine analysis and culture
Spinal Epidural Abscess Treatment
The treatment of a spinal epidural abscess depends on which stage it has progressed to. If the abscess is in its early stages then antibiotics will usually be the chosen form of treatment to help combat the infection that serves as the base cause for the abscess.
If the abscess has grown to a level where the swelling and pressure it places on the nerves starts causing neurological issues, then emergency surgery is done to immediately drain the abscess and prevent the progression of damage. Antibiotics will also be used in this situation to help eliminate the underlying infection.
Spinal Epidural Abscess Complications
If a spinal epidural abscess is not treated in time because it was misdiagnosed then it can grow and damage the nerves of a person’s spine. Neurological functions that affect the abdomen and legs can be damaged to the point that effects of these complications become permanent.
- Complications may include
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Chronic back pain
- Transverse myelitis
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord)
- Nerve damage
- Return of infection
Medical Malpractice and Spinal Epidural Abscesses
A spinal epidural abscess can be the product of medical malpractice. On one hand, a healthcare provider can be liable for the injury caused by the progression of an abscess if they failed to uphold the standard of care expected of them by neglecting to order tests that would catch a the abscess early.
On the other hand a surgeon can be liable for a spinal epidural abscess if their surgical actions contributed to the abscess forming. Actions such as failure to sterilize the surgical wound, instruments, and environment. They could also leave instruments inside the patient or even simply make surgical errors in regard to technique and execution.
It is imperative that a spinal epidural abscess is caught as early as possible. Every moment of delay increases the possibility for complications to occur. These complications can effectively decrease the quality of a patient’s life and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions. A spinal epidural abscess that has grown to cause complications can be the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit where a patient can receive compensation because of a healthcare provider’s negligence.
Seek an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one believe that your spinal epidural abscess developed because of the negligence of a healthcare provider, then you should contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about receiving a free consultation on your claim. Our skilled lawyers have the expertise that you will need to secure the compensation that you deserve.
We serve all of Florida with emphasis on locations such as : Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Sarasota, Miami, Doral, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton. No matter where, our lawyers will sit down with you to discuss your options for getting you the compensation that you deserve.
Contact us at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA’s offices. Please call us at 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765