Supportive care for patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome

Arch Neurol. 2005 Aug;62(8):1194-8. doi: 10.1001/archneur.62.8.1194.


A multidisciplinary consensus group searched MEDLINE from 1966 to May 2003, extracted relevant references, and prepared recommendations on supportive care for Guillain-Barré syndrome. In the absence of randomized controlled trials, we agreed on recommendations by consensus based on observational studies and expert opinion. In the acute phase in bed-bound adult patients, the group recommended the use of heparin and graduated pressure stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis, monitoring for blood pressure, pulse, autonomic disturbances, and respiratory failure, and the timely institution of artificial ventilation and tracheostomy. Pain management is difficult, but carbamazepine or gabapentin may help. The cautious use of narcotic analgesics may be needed. Disabled patients should be treated by a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team and should receive an assistive exercise program. Persistent fatigue following Guillain-Barré syndrome is common and may be helped by an exercise program. Because of a very small and possibly only theoretical increase in the risk of recurrence following immunization, the need for immunization should be reviewed on an individual basis. More research is needed to identify optimal methods for all aspects of supportive care.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Consensus
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Fatigue / rehabilitation
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / complications
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / nursing*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / standards
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pain Management
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / standards
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / prevention & control
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control
  • Venous Thrombosis / therapy