A descriptive study of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome

Emma Foster


Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an immune-mediated polyneuropathy characterised by progressive, symmetric muscle weakness with depressed or absent deep tendon reflexes. This is a relatively rare disorder. The long term outcomes in Australasian populations are not well described.

To describe the epidemiology of patients with GBS attending an Australian metropolitan hospital over a 10-year period, including long-term (12 months) functional outcomes.

Review of medical records of GBS patients admitted to Frankston Hospital over a ten year period (June 2004 to July 2014).

Thirty seven patients were identified. Median (IQR) age of onset was 60 years (51.5–73), with a M:F ratio of 1.06:1. A seasonal trend was noted, with one-third of cases occurring in winter, and another third in spring. An antecedent event was identified in many patients, with 17 patients having a preceding viral illness, and 10 having diarrhoea. Symptoms started in the legs in the majority of patients (67.5 per cent). Peak disability occurred at admission, with only 34.3 per cent able to mobilise independently at this time. This improved to 70.8 per cent of patients by 12 months. Eleven patients required ICU admission; six of whom required mechanical ventilation, with 50 per cent of them (N=3) requiring tracheostomy. 67.6 per cent of patients required inpatient rehabilitation prior to returning home.

The findings are consistent with previous epidemiologic studies. The vast majority of patients were independent at 12-month follow-up.
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