Reasons for delayed treatment initiation in Guillain-Barre syndrome

J Neurol Sci. 2022 Mar 15:434:120179. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2022.120179. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


Objective: The goal of this study was to analyze the reasons for delayed diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of all adult patients with GBS treated at Shamir Medical Center (SMC) from 2006 to 2018. We divided the patients into two groups: those with early initiation of treatment (within 24 h of arrival to ED), and those with later initiation of treatment (>24 h after arrival). We extracted epidemiological and clinical data regarding those groups, and compared them.

Results: 100 patients with GBS were treated between 2006 and 2018 at SMC. 50 patients were treated within 24 h of arrival, and in 50 - treatment was initiated later. Of those with delayed treatment, 9 had mild disease, but did receive a working diagnosis of GBS. 41 patients were not diagnosed initially as a clear-cut GBS, and alternative diagnoses were considered, the most common were orthopedic (11/41), vascular (7/41) or nutritional deficiency (6\41). Findings that increased the likelihood for alternative diagnoses to be considered first were severe limb or back pain (26/41); intact or brisk reflexes (17/41); and an atypical pattern of weakness (7\41).

Conclusions: GBS is a challenging diagnosis. Acknowledging the heterogeneity of its presentation and knowing its pitfalls is crucial for the prompt and accurate diagnosis of the disease.

Keywords: Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; Delayed diagnosis; GBS; IVIG treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time-to-Treatment*