Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acquired condition that results in demyelination of the peripheral nerves causing motor paralysis. This disease usually follows events such as respiratory or gastrointestinal viral or bacterial infection, surgical procedures, viral immunizations, or lymphoma.
Symptoms, which are caused by immunologic attack of the peripheral nerves, vary greatly. Clinical manifestations can include paresis of the legs, quadriplegia, respiratory insufficiency, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Sensory symptoms also may be present and include numbness and tingling, burning, shock-like symptoms, and pain. Reflexes are frequently impaired.
Diagnosis is accomplished by CSF analysis, electromyography (EMG), and physical findings of paresthesias and paralysis. Treatment is focused on providing ventilatory support, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immune globulin administration.