Conclusions

Guillain-Barre syndrome is an uncommon condition associated with peripheral nerve demyelination which leads to both weakness and sensory and autonomic symptoms. The condition generally begins several weeks after a prodromal illness, and usually progresses over the next few weeks. It generally has a good prognosis, reflected in an overall recovery rate of 80 to 85 per cent by 12 to 18 months. However, about 10 to 15 per cent of patients are left with severe long-term disabilities, such as an inability to perform self-care activities or walk. Between 10 and 20 per cent of patients will become ventilator dependent at some time during the course of their illness, and about 3 to 4 per cent will die, usually because of aspiration pneumonia or cardiovascular instability. Treatment and careful observation of these patients are important to prevent the complications of immobility and to provide timely respiratory support should it become necessary. Recently, two immune-modulation therapies (plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin) have been shown to have a positive influence on the course of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

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