Science News: Hospital-Diagnosed Morbidities and Recent Surgery as Risk Factors for Developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Published April 01, 2024

Science News

Submitted by: Justin Willer, MD
Edited by: Joshua Wilson, MD

Citation: Levison LS, Thomsen RW, Andersen H. Hospital-diagnosed morbidities and recent surgery as risk factors for developing Guillain-Barré syndrome. Eur J Neurol. 2023;30(10):3277-3285. doi:10.1111/ene.15955

Summary: This study investigated the association between Gillian-Barré syndrome (GBS) development, hospital-associated morbidity, and recent surgery.

Over a 13-year period, 1,086 GBS cases and 10,747 matched controls were identified. The frequency of infection was compared to controls (34.3% versus 17.0%)

Matched odds ratio showed strongest associations with leukemia (OR = 4.59, 95% CI = 1.74–12.08), lymphoma 
(OR = 2.09, 95% CI = 0.97–4.49), diabetes (OR = 2.12, 95% CI = 1.44–3.12), moderate to severe liver disease (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 0.68–5.80), myocardial infarction (OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.20–2.49), congestive heart failure (OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.08–2.44), and cerebrovascular disease (OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.21–2.16).

Surgical procedures within 5 months prior were noted in 10.6% of cases and 5.1% of controls (OR= 2.2). The risk of developing GBS was greatest during the first-month post-operative period.

This study has clear limitation being retrospective having matched controls. It further only establishes and association and not a causal link between risk factor and development of GBS. 

Comments: Interestingly, we tend to think of GBS in patients with acute infections and critical illness polyneuropathy/myopathy in patients with severe and debilitating medical conditions. Based on the results of this study, we may need to step back and look at the risk factors that may play a role in putting a patient at a greater risk of developing GBS.