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Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Natural history and prognostic factors: a retrospective review of 106 cases

Inés González-Suárez*, Irene Sanz-Gallego, Francisco Javier Rodríguez de Rivera and Javier Arpa

  • * Corresponding author: Inés González-Suárez

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Section of Neuromuscular diseases, Department of Neurology, La Paz University Hospital, Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid 261.28046, Spain

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BMC Neurology 2013, 13:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-95

Published: 22 July 2013



Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is characterized by acute onset and progressive course, and is usually associated with a good prognosis. However, there are forms of poor prognosis, needing ventilatory support and major deficits at discharge. With this study we try to identify the factors associated with a worse outcome.


106 cases of GBS admitted in our hospital between years 2000–2010 were reviewed. Epidemiological, clinical, therapeutical and evolutionary data were collected.


At admission 45% had severe deficits, percentage which improves throughout the evolution of the illness, with full recovery or minor deficits in the 87% of patients at the first year review. Ages greater than 55 years, severity at admission (p < 0.001), injured cranial nerves (p = 0.008) and the needing of ventilator support (p = 0.003) were associated with greater sequels at the discharge and at the posterior reviews in the following months. 17% required mechanical ventilation (MV). Values < 250 L/min in the Peak Flow-test are associated with an increased likelihood of requiring MV (p < 0.001).


Older age, severe deficits at onset, injured cranial nerves, requiring MV, and axonal lesion patterns in the NCS were demonstrated as poor prognostic factors. Peak Flow-test is a useful predictive factor of respiratory failure by its easy management.

Guillain-Barre; Natural history; Prognostic factors; Peak flow