Comparison of intravenous immunoglobulin and plasma exchange in treatment of mechanically ventilated children with Guillain Barré syndrome: a randomized study

Crit Care. 2011 Jul 11;15(4):R164. doi: 10.1186/cc10305.


Introduction: Respiratory failure is a life threatening complication of Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS). There is no consensus on the specific treatment for this subset of children with GBS.

Methods: This was a prospective randomized study to compare the outcome of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasma exchange (PE) treatment in children with GBS requiring mechanical ventilation. Forty-one children with GBS requiring endotracheal mechanical ventilation (MV) within 14 days from disease onset were included. The ages of the children ranged from 49 to 143 months.Randomly, 20 children received a five-day course of IVIG (0.4 g/kg/day) and 21 children received a five-day course of one volume PE daily. Lumbar puncture (LP) was performed in 36 patients (18 in each group).

Results: Both groups had comparable age (p = 0.764), weight (p = 0.764), duration of illness prior to MV (p = 0.854), preceding diarrhea (p = 0.751), cranial nerve involvement (p = 0.756), muscle power using Medical Research Council (MRC) sum score (p = 0.266) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein (p = 0.606).Children in the PE group had a shorter period of MV (median 11 days, IQR 11.0 to 13.0) compared to IVIG group (median 13 days, IQR 11.3 to 14.5) with p = 0.037.Those in the PE group had a tendency for a shorter Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) stay (p = 0.094).A total of 20/21 (95.2%) and 18/20 (90%) children in the PE and IVIG groups respectively could walk unaided within four weeks after PICU discharge (p = 0.606).There was a negative correlation between CSF protein and duration of mechanical ventilation in the PE group (p = 0.037), but not in the IVIG group (p = 0.132).

Conclusions: In children with GBS requiring MV, PE is superior to IVIG regarding the duration of MV but not PICU stay or the short term neurological outcome.The negative correlation between CSF protein values and duration of MV in PE group requires further evaluation of its clinical usefulness.

Trial registration: Identifier NCT01306578.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Egypt
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Plasma Exchange*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous

Associated data