Acute inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy: a critical evaluation of diagnostic criteria for demyelination

Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1995 Dec;35(8):451-5.


There is agreement on the clinical diagnostic criteria for acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP/GBS) however, there is lack of consensus for detection of demyelination. In order to critically evaluate the prevailing criteria, sixty-six patients who fulfilled NINCDS criteria and had typical features of GBS were studied for electrophysiological abnormalities of peripheral nerves by using standard methods (median, common peroneal, sural and ulnar) between 1 to 12 weeks after the onset of symptoms. The commonest abnormality on motor nerve conduction study was prolonged distal latency (75%-83%) followed by reduction in CMAP amplitude (63%-82%), decreased velocity (48%-62%), conduction block (17%-39%) and f-wave abnormalities (37.8%-59%). Sensory conduction abnormalities were detected in over 20% of median, 25% of ulnar and 33% of sural nerves. All the patients had abnormality of at least two motor conduction parameters in one nerve when values beyond 2 SD of the mean were considered abnormal and over 70% of patients had three abnormalities in two nerves or two abnormalities in three nerves. Comparison with the prevailing criteria for demyelination revealed that the number of patients fulfilling them varied widely: Albers et al. (1985): 74.2%, Albers et al. (1989): 40.9% and Cornblath: 30.3%. We believe that the current criteria for detection of demyelination in acute neuropathy are too strict, underestimate the underlying pathology in GBS and need reassessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / diagnosis*
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / physiopathology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*