Patterns of recovery in the Guillain-Barre syndromes

T. W. Ho, C. Y. Li, D. R. Cornblath, C. Y. Gao, A. K. Asbury, J. W. Griffin, G. M. McKhann

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149 Scopus citations


Clinical, electrodiagnostic, and pathologic studies indicate that the Guillain-Barre syndromes (GBSs) include both primary demyelinating and primary axanal forms. The axonal forms are usually thought to have a poorer prognosis, with less chance for rapid or complete recovery. In northern China, epidemics of one axonal form, acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), occur annually in the summer. Autopsy studies in some fatal cases have demonstrated wallerian-like degeneration of motor roots and motor fibers in the peripheral nerves. Recovery of such patients would require axonal regeneration along the entire length of the nerve fiber. In a 2-year prospective study of GBS at a single hospital in northern China, 42 patients were classified as having either AMAN (32 patients), acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) (8 patients), or as undetermined (2 patients) by electrodiagnostic criteria. Their recoveries were monitored clinically. The recovery times of AMAN and AIDP patients were similar: the median time to regain the ability to walk 5 meters with assistance was 31 days for patients classified as having AMAN and 32 days for those classified as having AIDP. These rapid recovery times are incompatible with severe wallerinn degeneration of the ventral roots and motor nerve fibers. The rapid recoveries observed in AMAN patients could be explained by relatively quickly reversible immune-mediated changes at nodes of Ranvier in motor fibers, by degeneration and regeneration of intramuscular motor nerve terminals, or both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-700
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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