PMID: 2838124Jun 1, 1988Paper

The Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. A review of 50 cases

Brain : a Journal of Neurology
J H O'NeillJ Newsom-Davis


The clinical and electrophysiological features of 50 consecutive patients with the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) have been analysed. Carcinoma was detected (CD group) in 25, of whom 21 had small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC was evident within 2 yrs of onset of LEMS symptoms in 20/21 cases, and at 3.8 yrs in 1/21. In the cases in whom no carcinoma was detected (NCD group), 14/25 had a history of LEMS greater than 5 yrs. The dominant neurological features were similar in the CD and NCD groups, and consisted of proximal lower limb weakness (100%), depressed tendon reflexes (92%) with posttetanic potentiation (78%), autonomic features, especially dryness of the mouth (74%) and mild/moderate ptosis (54%). The compound evoked muscle action potential amplitude in abductor digiti minimi was below the lower limit of control values in 48/50, and the increment following maximum voluntary contraction above the upper limit of control values in 48/50. Single fibre electromyographic abnormalities were found in 29/29 cases. The analysis indicates that a patient presenting with LEMS has a 62% risk of an underlying SCLC, and that this risk declines sharply after 2 yrs, becoming very low at 4 to 5 yrs. It is argued that in SCLC cases ...Continue Reading


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