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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1997 Jul;78(7):777-9.

Autonomic dysfunction as the presenting feature of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, New York 10021, USA.


Autonomic dysfunction has been demonstrated in various conditions associated with peripheral neuropathy such as acute intermittent porphyria, amyloidosis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). In the latter, hypertension is an associated complication that typically occurs after neurological signs are already present. We report a case of a patient with autonomic dysfunction as the presenting feature who was admitted to the coronary unit with chest pain and hypertension. Subsequently, he developed progressive symmetric muscle, weakness, sensory changes, and areflexia. GBS was then diagnosed based on the clinical picture, albuminocytologic dissociation in the cerebrospinal fluid, and electrodiagnostic abnormalities suggestive of demyelinative polyneuropathy with conduction block. Few cases in the literature have reported autonomic dysfunction as the presenting feature of GBS, such as in this case. In a previously asymptomatic patient, acute onset of autonomic dysfunction should alert the physician to the possibility of an acute polyneuropathy, such as GBS.

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