Neurophysiological criteria in the diagnosis of different clinical types of Guillain-Barre syndrome

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;79(3):289-93. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2007.118000. Epub 2007 Jul 5.


Background: The diagnostic yield of various neurophysiological criteria may vary in different subforms of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), whose prevalence varies in different geographical areas.

Aims: To evaluate the sensitivity of various neurophysiological criteria in different clinical subtypes of GBS, and their relationship with severity, duration and outcome.

Methods: Consecutive patients with GBS underwent detailed clinical evaluation. Severity was graded on a scale from 0 to 10. Motor and sensory nerve conductions and F wave studies were performed. The diagnostic sensitivity of Albers et al (set 1), Cornblath (set 2), Ho et al (set 3), Dutch GBS study group (set 4), Italian GBS study group (set 5) and Albers and Kelly (set 6) criteria were evaluated and correlated with clinical subtypes of GBS, duration, severity and outcome.

Results: There were 51 patients. Mean disability was 6.8; 34 patients were bedridden and five needed a ventilator. Clinical presentation was pure motor in 31, motorsensory in 18 and pure sensory in two patients. The sensitivity of nerve conduction study in the diagnosis of GBS was highest in set 1 (88.2%) followed by set 3 (86.3%) and set 4 (82.4%) and lowest in set 2 (39.2%). The diagnostic yield of sets 1, 3 and 4 were also higher than sets 2, 5 and 6 in different clinical subtypes of GBS. As per Ho et al, patients could be categorised into acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (44 (86.3%)), acute motor axonal neuropathy (4 (7.8%)) and acute motor sensory axonal neuropathy (3 (5.9%)). One (2%) patient died, 22.4% had complete, 57.1% partial and 18.4% poor recovery at 3 months. Outcome was related to severity of illness and compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude.

Conclusion: The sensitivity of different neurophysiological criteria in the diagnosis of Indian GBS patients varied from 39.2% to 88.2%. The outcome was related to severity of illness and CMAP amplitude.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / classification*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / etiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Physical Examination
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous