The Dangers of a Misdiagnosed Spinal Cord Abscess

October 25, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
The Dangers of a Misdiagnosed Spinal Cord Abscess

Also called an epidural abscess, a spinal cord abscess is a potentially fatal infection located on or against the spinal cord. These infections, although rare, can be easily missed by some physicians, leading to catastrophic and lifelong effects on the patient.

What is a spinal cord abscess?

A spinal cord abscess (SCA) occurs when the space between the spine and the spinal cord lining becomes infected. A pocket-like area of pus forms in the affected area, which causes swelling and exerts pressure on the cord, resulting in serious health issues. Abscesses can occur in the brain as well.

SCAs are rare, so some doctors don't test for it, but misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can lead to devastating and even fatal results. Many abscesses are mistaken for typical back pain and are diagnosed and treated as such.

Many times, patients with an SCA will make several trips to their doctor or emergency room for assistance before receiving the correct diagnosis, but for some patients the damage is already done. Injured patients may want to speak to a malpractice attorney about their personal situation.

Symptoms of a spinal cord abscess

It's crucial to recognize the symptoms of an SCA as soon as possible, as a delayed diagnosis can lead to long-term neurological damage or even paralysis. Symptoms of spinal cord abscess include:

  • Back pain

  • Fever

  • Bowel or bladder incontinence

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Weakness in legs

Diagnosing an SCA

There are several ways for medical professionals to diagnose a spinal cord abscess, including the following tools:

  • Blood tests

  • MRI

  • CT scan

  • Fluid sample from abscessed area (lumbar puncture)

When caught in time, SCAs are quite treatable. Typically, doctors use antibiotics and/or surgery, depending on the severity of the abscess. However, if the abscess is misdiagnosed or caught too late, the patient can suffer serious injury, and the doctor may be liable for malpractice.

Complications from undiagnosed SCAs

Undiagnosed and untreated SCAs can cause many dangerous complications, including:

  • Meningitis

  • Spinal or bone infections

  • Chronic back pain

  • Irreversible brain and nervous system damage

  • Paralysis

  • Death

Aside from the physical injuries that come with a misdiagnosed spinal cord abscess, patients must also deal with the financial issues. These can include medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages, and long-term therapy and rehabilitation. As a victim of malpractice, a patient is eligible for compensation for these bills.

If you've experienced injuries or complications from misdiagnosis of a spinal cord abscess, talk to the experienced Ohio and Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law. We can help you deal with the devastating loss that occurs when a doctor fails to do his or her job. Please call us at 877-686-8879, or fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.