Assessment of autonomic dysfunction in Guillain-Barré syndrome and its prognostic implications

Acta Neurol Scand. 1987 Feb;75(2):101-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1987.tb07902.x.


Twenty-four patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome were prospectively evaluated for evidence of autonomic dysfunction. It occurred in 16 (66.7%) patients, usually during the peak period of paralysis, in the form of either excess or inadequate activity of sympathetic and/or parasympathetic nervous systems. Its clinical manifestations comprised of sinus tachycardia (33.3%), bradycardia (8.3%), hypertension (33.3%), postural hypotension (35%), urinary sphincteric disturbances (20.8%) and anhydrosis of lower limbs (12.5%). Assessment of cardiovascular responses to autonomic function tests revealed impaired alterations in heart rate during deep breathing (31.6%), Valsalva's manoeuvre (28.6%), sustained handgrip (25%), cold-pressor test (36.4%), postural change (35%) and atropine test (20%); and impaired rise in blood pressure during firm handgrip (25%) and cold-pressor test (36.6%). ECG abnormalities were noticed in 8 (33.3%) patients. They comprised of depressed ST segment in 5, inverted T wave in 3, tall T wave in 2 and prolonged QTc in 2 patients. Two patients died of respiratory failure. Autonomic dysfunction in Guillain-Barré syndrome did not appear to have any prognostic significance as there was no significant difference in autonomic dysfunction between good - and bad - outcome groups of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypohidrosis / etiology
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / complications
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / diagnosis
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / physiopathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Urination Disorders / etiology