Spinal Epidural Abscess

A spinal epidural abscess forms as the result of an infection that attacks the spinal vertebrae or the disc space between the vertebrae. The infection may enter the body through something as simple as a dental infection or a cut on the hand. If left untreated, infection of the spine or disc may worsen and create infectious debris in the tissues surrounding the spine and spinal cord. If that infectious debris grows untreated, pus and phlegm forms a mass.  The mass can become walled-off to create an abscess.  That abscess can compress spinal nerves or even the spinal cord itself.

Doctors and hospitals often fail to diagnosis a spinal epidural until it is too late . The main reason doctors and hospitals fail to diagnosis this dangerous condition is because the first and most obvious sign is usually severe back pain. Because so many people suffer from severe back pain, the diagnosis tends to get missed.

Epidural abscess diagram

Other signs or symptoms of a spinal epidural abscess doctors and hospitals often miss

  • Changes in sensation in either the arms or the legs.  Sensory changes can include paresthesias, which involve numbness or tingling of the upper or lower extremities. Parasthesias are often associated with the severe back pain.
  • Problems emptying the bladder or moving the bowels. Bowel and bladder problems are another sign of compression of nerve roots or even the spinal cord itself, especially in the lower back.
  • Weakness or the inability to move the arms or the legs, again from compression of the nerve roots or the spinal cord.
  • Signs or symptoms of infection, including fever and abnormal laboratory results

Not every person injured by a spinal epidural abscess will have an injury that justifies filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Fortunately there is treatment for this condition – including IV antibiotics or surgical evacuation of the abscess. But, if the diagnosis is not made in a timely manner, there can be permanent neurological injuries, such as the inability to regain full use of the arms or the legs, or the loss of bowel or bladder function.

When we’re analyzing a case, we need to know the timing of every symptom, and of every visit to the doctor’s office or the hospital with complaints like severe back pain, decreased sensation, paresthesias, or bowel or bladder issues.  With this information, we can determine whether a patient with a spinal epidural abscess lost the opportunity for treatment at a time when devastating injuries like paralysis or incontinence could have been avoided.

If you have questions about a cases involving a spinal epidural abscess, do not hesitate to contact our firm. We always offer free evaluations and investigations into potential medical malpractice cases like these.

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