Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Continuum : Lifelong Learning in Neurology
Peter D Donofrio


This article reviews the current state of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), including its clinical presentation, evaluation, pathophysiology, and treatment. GBS is an acute/subacute-onset polyradiculoneuropathy typically presenting with sensory symptoms and weakness over several days, often leading to quadriparesis. Approximately 70% of patients report a recent preceding upper or lower respiratory tract infection or gastrointestinal illness. Approximately 30% of patients require intubation and ventilation because of respiratory failure. Nerve conduction studies in the acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP) form of GBS typically show evidence for a multifocal demyelinating process, including conduction block or temporal dispersion in motor nerves. Sural sparing is a common phenomenon when testing sensory nerves. CSF analysis commonly shows an elevated protein, but this elevation may not be present until the third week of the illness. Patients with AIDP are treated with best medical management and either IV immunoglobulin (IVIg) or plasma exchange. GBS is a common form of acute quadriparesis; a high level of suspicion is needed for early diagnosis. With appropriate therapy, most patients make a very good to c...Continue Reading


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