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Cauda Equina Syndrome Dictionary

Cauda Equina – The group of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord through the vertebral canal.

Cauda Equina Syndrome – Compression of the nerve roots that emerge from the base of the spinal cord in the lumbar spine causing impairment of function of bladder, bowels, sexual function, sensation and mobility.

MRI scan – Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a technique used to take images of the body. Cauda Equina Syndrome MRI scans are used to determine a diagnosis whether the spinal cord is compressed or not. Occasionally dye will be injected to have a better contrast with nerves

Prolapsed disc – otherwise known as a ‘herniated’ or ‘slipped’ disc.

Arachnoiditis -is an inflammatory condition of the arachnoid mater or ‘arachnoid’, one of the membranes known as meninges that surround and protect the nerves of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.

Anal irrigation system – Anal irrigation systems such as Peristeen or Qu Fora which uses water to irrigate the bowels. A catheter is inserted into the bottom, and a balloon can be inflated to keep it in place. Water is pumped inside and once you feel it’s enough you deflate the balloon. The water and hopefully faeces will be evacuated.

Intermittent Self Catheterisation (ISC). – This is where one uses a catheter to urinate and then disposes of it, in contrast to an Indwelling Catheter that remains in the body.

Urethra – the canal that leads to the bladder. It’s where urine is released.

Supra pubic catheter – A supra pubic catheter is an indwelling catheter that is inserted into the bladder through the stomach. One can have a flip flow valve which is essentially a tap that can be used to urinate. This is the best option for keeping bladder tone, however, bags can be used on the end of the catheter and some doctors may prefer you to use a bag for several reasons.

UTI – Urinary Tract Infection, these can be particularly prevalent in people doing ISC or with an indwelling catheter. Drinking plenty of water can help avoid a UTI.

Analgesia – Another word for pain killer.

Neurological damage – The damage that has occurred to the nerves.

Nerve root compression – A nerve root is the initial part of a nerve leaving the central nervous system. When one has nerve root compression it means that nerve root is being impinged.

Spinal stenosis – An abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal or neural foramen. It can cause pain, numbness and weakness. It can also cause loss of bladder and bowel control and sexual dysfunction in severe cases.

Spinal Fusion – is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones in the spine(vertebrae). It is essentially a “welding” process. The basic idea is to fuse together two or more vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

Laminectomy – a surgical operation to remove the back of one or more vertebrae, usually to give access to the spinal cord or to relieve pressure on nerves

Discectomy – surgical removal of the whole or a part of an intervertebral disc.

Microdiscectomy – also sometimes called micro decompression or microdiscectomy, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed on patients with a herniated lumbar disc. During this surgery, a surgeon will remove portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve column.

TENS machine -Trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.

Urine Retention – is an inability to completely empty the bladder

Degenerative Disc Disease – is a condition that happens when one or more of the discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorates or breaks down, leading to pain. There may be weakness, numbness, and pain that radiates down the leg.

Facet joints – are the joints in your spine that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist.

Facet Joint Injections – are used to alleviate symptoms of Facet syndrome. The procedure is an outpatient surgery, so that the patient can go home on the same day.

Facet Syndrome is a syndrome in which the facet joints (synovial diarthroses, from C2 to S1) cause painful symptoms. In conjunction with degenerative disc disease, a distinct but functionally related condition, facet arthropathy is believed to be one of the most common causes of lower back pain

Altered sensation – occurs when despite being able to feel pressure on the skin, not being able to have a normal sensation response such as hot/cold, sharp or dull. If numbness devlops then it will be shown during a pin prick test.

Anal Sphincter Test – Testing anal tone and feeling.

Pin Prick Test – Using a small sharp object a doctor will test for feeling and reaction.

Catheter Tug Test – Sometimes a small pull on a catheter is done to analyse feeling in that area.

Reflexes – Reflexes are actions that are performed without conscious thought as a result of a stimulus.

Radio-logical report – X rays, MRI, CT scans are reported on by a radiologist.

Hyper-mobility– A condition that means that your joints are more flexible than other people’s.

Personal assistant – Another term for carer.

Saddle area – The area you would sit in a saddle on a horse which includes, anus, vulva area, between your legs, penis and testicles.

Saddle anaesthesia – loss of sensation in the area where you would sit in a saddle. A dense area of numbness.

Chronic pain – Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the illness or injury has healed or gone away.

Acute pain – A type of pain that typically lasts less than 6 months that is directly related to a stimulus or illness.

Nerve conduction tests – Nerve conduction test measures the speed at which impulses travel along a nerve. These tests help doctors to assess how well your nerves and muscles are functioning.

Neuro-physio – A neuro-physio uses repetitive actions and exercises to kick-start message pathways along the nerves.

Ileostomy – An Ileostomy is where the small bowel is diverted through an opening in the abdomen. The opening is known as a stoma.

General Anaesthetic – A general anaesthetic is where medications are used to make you go to sleep, so that you are not conscious during a procedure.

Local anaesthetic – A numbing agent administered while a patient is awake.


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