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Central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) is the technical name for the brain damage caused by the destruction of the layer covering nerve cells in the brainstem called the myelin sheath. The destruction of the myelin sheath that coats nerve cells prevents signals from being properly conducted within the nerve. This decreases its ability to communicate with other cells.
The most common cause of central pontine myelinolysis is a rapid change in sodium levels in the body. Most commonly, this occurs when someone is being treated for a very common condition called hyponatremia which is simply low blood levels of sodium. When giving patients intravenous fluids containing sodium doctors must correct the low sodium slowly. If a doctor increases the sodium by greater than 10 to 12 mEq in 24 hours he increases the risk that the patient will develop the permanent brain injury-CPM. When administering sodium to a patient, a physician must follow careful guidelines for evaluation and correction of hyponatremia. These guidelines aim to safely restore the sodium level, while protecting the brain.
$5 Million verdict for woman who suffered from a Central Pontine Myelinolysis (CPM) after being treated for low sodium
At Richards & Richards, we work with medical experts in order to identify failures in diagnosing and treating hyponatremia according to standard treatment protocols. CPM does not occur on its own. It is a preventable injury often caused by a physician’s negligence when he does not follow the standard protocols that mandate slowly increasing the sodium level.
The symptoms of central pontine myelinolysis, can include a depressed level of awareness, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, impaired thinking, weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs, muscle spasms, stiffness, impaired sensation, problems with vision, and difficulty with coordination. In some cases, CPM can lead to coma, “locked-in” syndrome, the complete paralysis of all of the voluntary muscles in the body except for those that control the eyes, and in the worst cases, death.
The nerve damage caused by central pontine myelinolysis is usually long-lasting. A brain injury can cause serious and permanent disability. Individuals who survive are likely to require extensive and prolonged physical therapy and rehabilitation. There is no known cure for central pontine myelinolysis.
We understand the medical issues involved in CPM. If you or a loved one has suffered from CPM contact an experienced medical negligence attorney at Richards & Richards, LLP today at 412-261-2620. We will be happy to review your case. There is no cost to you unless we make a financial recovery.