Intravenous immunoglobulin for Guillain-Barre syndrome.[update of Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(2):CD002063; PMID: 11406030]

R A Hughes, J C Raphael, A V Swan, P A Doorn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Guillain-Barre syndrome is an acute, paralysing, inflammatory peripheral nerve disease. Intravenous immunoglobulin purified from donated blood is beneficial in other autoimmune diseases. OBJECTIVES: We aimed to determine the efficacy of intravenous immunoglobulin for treating Guillain-Barre syndrome. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group register (search updated 11 February 2003), MEDLINE and EMBASE (from January 2000 to February 2003) using Guillain-Barre syndrome and acute polyradiculoneuritis as the search terms. We also searched bibliographies of trials and made contact with their authors and other experts. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised and quasi-randomised trials. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers examined the titles and abstracts of all the papers retrieved by the search, extracted the data and assessed the quality of the trials independently. MAIN RESULTS: Two trials comparing intravenous immunoglobulin with supportive treatment were inadequate to establish its value. Another Cochrane systematic review has shown that plasma exchange hastens recovery. We found six randomised trials that compared intravenous immunoglobulin with plasma exchange. In a meta-analysis of five trials involving 536, mostly adult, participants who were unable to walk unaided and had been ill for less than two weeks. The primary outcome measure in this review was the change in a seven grade disability scale four weeks after randomisation. The weighted mean difference of this measure was not statistically significant, being only 0.04 (95% CI -0.26 to 0.19) of a disability grade more improvement in the intravenous immunoglobulin group than the plasma exchange group. There were also no statistically significant differences in time to walk unaided, mortality, and proportion of participants unable to walk without aid after a year.One trial involving 249 participants compared plasma exchange followed by intravenous immunoglobulin with plasma exchange alone, and another involving 37 participants compared immunoabsorption followed by intravenous immunoglobulin with immunoabsorption alone. Neither revealed significant extra benefit from intravenous immunoglobulin.One study of only 39 participants showed a trend towards more improvement with high-dose compared with low-dose intravenous immunoglobulin. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Although there are no adequate comparisons with placebo, intravenous immunoglobulin hastens recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome as much as plasma exchange. Giving intravenous immunoglobulin after plasma exchange is not significantly better than plasma exchange alone. Randomised trials are needed to decide the effect of intravenous immunoglobulin in children, in adults with mild disease and in adults who start treatment after more than two weeks. [References: 56]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)CD002063
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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