A Guillain-Barré syndrome variant with prominent facial diplegia

J Neurol. 2009 Nov;256(11):1899-905. doi: 10.1007/s00415-009-5254-8. Epub 2009 Jul 25.


To determine the clinical features of a Guillain-Barré syndrome variant with prominent facial diplegia, we retrospectively reviewed approximately 8,600 cases referred to our neuroimmunological laboratory for serological tests during the past seven years. Patients' histories, neurological signs, and laboratory and electrophysiological data were clarified based on their clinical records. Sera obtained during the acute phase were tested for prior infectious serology and anti-ganglioside antibodies. In 22 patients, clinical signs such as acute progressive bifacial weakness, paresthesias in the distal dominant limbs, and hypo- or areflexia, were compatible with a Guillain-Barré syndrome variant, facial diplegia and paresthesias. Other cranial nerve involvements, limb weakness, and ataxia were absent or minimal. Clinical courses were monophasic, the nadir being reached within four weeks. Eighteen patients (86%) had had infectious symptoms within the four weeks preceding the onset of neurological illness. In the infection serology tests, anti-cytomegalovirus IgM antibodies were the most frequent (35%). All the patients had cerebrospinal fluid albuminocytologic dissociation. In nerve conduction studies, 14 (64%) showed demyelination in their limbs. Anti-GM2 IgM antibodies were detected in four patients who had anti-cytomegalovirus IgM antibodies. Patients with conditions similar to facial diplegia and paresthesias, but lacking either distal paresthesias or hyporeflexia, were regarded as having marginal facial diplegia and paresthesias, because they also frequently had features of Guillain-Barré syndrome, such as an antecedent infection or cerebrospinal fluid albuminocytologic dissociation. Our findings are further evidence of a facial variant of Guillain-Barré syndrome and provide important information essential for its diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cerebral Palsy / blood
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications*
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • G(M2) Ganglioside / immunology*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / blood
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / complications*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresthesia / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • G(M2) Ganglioside