The Failure to Diagnose Spinal Cord Abscess

A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a medical condition can lead to catastrophic or life-threatening consequences. One commonly misdiagnosed condition includes a spinal cord abscess, which can have a serious impact on a patient’s life if not promptly identified and treated. 

What is a Spinal Cord Abscess?

A spinal cord abscess, also known as an epidural abscess, occurs from an infection in between the spine and the lining of the spinal cord.  As an abscess, or pocket of fluid, builds up in the infected area, it can put pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord, potentially leading to significant complications for a patient. 

Spinal cord abscesses can occur following procedures involving the spinal column, such as an epidural injection. Because spinal cord abscesses are a rare condition, many doctors fail to conduct diagnostic tests for it even if a patient is complaining of or displaying symptoms consistent with a spinal cord abscess. A spinal cord abscess may be misdiagnosed as simple degenerative back pain. However, when left untreated, an abscess can ultimately cause permanent damage. When a doctor should have more promptly diagnosed a patient’s spinal cord abscess, that doctor may be held accountable for any harm suffered by the patient through a medical malpractice claim. 

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Abscess

Doctors should recognize the symptoms of a spinal cord abscess, especially after a patient has undergone a procedure involving the spinal cord or spinal column. Symptoms of spinal cord abscesses include:

  • Back pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Leg weakness or difficulty walking

How Are Spinal Cord Abscesses Diagnosed?

When a physician suspects that a patient may be suffering from a spinal cord abscess, diagnostic tools that doctors can use to confirm whether their patient is suffering from an abscess include:

  • Blood tests, which may reveal that a patient is experiencing an infection
  • MRI or CT scans, which can show the presence of an abscess on the spinal cord
  • Fluid samples from the infected area taken through a spinal tap, which may contain materials that build up in abscess fluid, including dead cells, bacteria, and white blood cells or other immune cells. 

Medical Complications of a Spinal Cord Abscess

A spinal cord abscess that goes untreated can lead to any number of permanently damaging or life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Lifelong back pain
  • Infections of the vertebrae or of the spinal cord itself
  • Meningitis
  • Paralysis
  • Damage to the nervous system or to the brain

In some cases, complications from a spinal cord abscess can cause a patient’s death.

What Happens If You Suffered a Failure-to-Diagnose/Misdiagnosis of a Spinal Cord Abscess

If you have suffered complications because a spinal cord abscess was not promptly diagnosed, you may be entitled to recover compensation that includes:

  • Medical expenses to treat and recover from complications
  • Long-term care costs if you are left with permanent disability
  • Lost past and future wages or income due to being unable to work because of a spinal cord abscess
  • Physical pain and emotional trauma
  • Loss of quality of life, due to a reduced life expectancy or physical disabilities interfering with daily living

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Failure to Diagnose/Misdiagnosis Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh failure-to-diagnose/misdiagnosis malpractice attorneys at Matzus Law, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Greensburg, and Washington. Call us today at (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., Suite 3210, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.