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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD003279. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003279.pub3.

Treatment for Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

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  • 1Institute of Human Genetics, Centre for Life, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is an autoimmune disorder of neuromuscular transmission. Treatments attempt to overcome the harmful autoimmune process, or improve residual neuromuscular transmission


The objective was to examine the efficacy of treatment in Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.


We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register (12 October 2010), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (12 October 2010, Issue 4 2010 in the Cochrane Library), MEDLINE (January 1966 to September 2010) and EMBASE (January 1980 to September 2010).


All randomised or quasi-randomised trials of adults and children with a diagnosis of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, with or without small-cell lung cancer, receiving any form of pharmacological or physical treatment.


All authors independently assessed studies for inclusion and extracted data. Study authors were contacted for missing information when possible.


Four controlled trials of 3,4-diaminopyridine compared with placebo in a total of 54 participants with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome were eligible: three cross-over trials and one parallel group. Two were added at this update. One of these trials also assessed pyridostigmine in conjunction with 3,4-diaminopyridine. A further cross-over trial compared intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) to placebo in nine participants.Four trials of 3,4-diaminopyridine reported significant improvement in the primary outcome, muscle strength score, or myometric limb measurement for between hours and a week following treatment, and significant improvement in resting compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude following 3,4-diaminopyridine, compared with placebo.A meta-analysis of the primary endpoint showed Quantitative Myasthenia Gravis (QMG) muscle score assessed between three and eight days was likely to improve by a mean of 2.44 points (95% confidence interval 3.6 to 1.22). Meta-analysis of the secondary endpoint CMAP amplitude also showed a mean improvement of 1.36 mV (95% confidence interval 0.99 to 1.72) over the same period. The risk of bias was determined to be low, and quality of evidence moderate to high.A single cross-over trial reported significant improvement in myometric limb strength and non-significant improvement in mean resting CMAP amplitude with IVIg compared to placebo. Clinical improvement lasted for up to eight weeks.


Limited but moderate to high quality evidence from randomised controlled trials showed that over days 3,4-diaminopyridine, or for up to 8 weeks IVIg, improved muscle strength scores and CMAP amplitudes in participants with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. There are insufficient data at present to quantify this effect. Other possible treatments have not been tested in randomised controlled trials.

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