Corticosteroids for Guillain-Barre syndrome

RAC Hughes, AV Swan, Pieter van Doorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background Guillain-Barre syndrome is caused by inflammation of the peripheral nerves, which corticosteroids should benefit. Objectives To examine the efficacy of corticosteroids. Search strategy We searched The Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Trials Specialized Register ( June 2009), MEDLINE ( January 1966 to June 2009) and EMBASE from ( January 1980 to June 2009). Selection criteria We included quasi-randomised or randomised controlled trials of any form of corticosteroid or adrenocorticotrophic hormone. Our primary outcome was change in disability grade on a seven-point scale after four weeks. Secondary outcomes included time from randomisation until recovery of unaided walking, time from randomisation until discontinuation of ventilation ( for those ventilated), death, death or disability ( inability to walk without aid) after 12 months, relapse, and adverse events. Data collection and analysis Two authors extracted the data. Main results No new trials were discovered in the new search in June 2009. Six trials with 587 participants provided data for the primary outcome. According to moderate quality evidence, the disability grade change after four weeks in the corticosteroid groups was not significantly different from that in the control groups, weighted mean difference (WMD) 0.36 less improvement (95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.16 more to 0.88 less improvement). In four trials of oral corticosteroids with 120 participants in total, there was significantly less improvement after four weeks with corticosteroids than without corticosteroids, WMD 0.82 disability grades less improvement, 95% CI 0.17 to 1.47). In two trials with a combined total of 467 participants, there was no significant difference, WMD 0.17 ( 95% CI 0.06 to 0.39) of a disability grade more improvement after four weeks with intravenous corticosteroids. According to moderate to high quality evidence, there were no significant differences between the corticosteroid-treated and the control groups in any of the secondary efficacy outcomes. Diabetes was significantly more common and hypertension significantly much less common in the corticosteroid-treated participants. Authors' conclusions According to moderate quality evidence, corticosteroids given alone do not significantly hasten recovery from GBS or affect the long-term outcome. According to low quality evidence oral corticosteroids delay recovery. Diabetes requiring insulin was significantly more and hypertension less common with corticosteroids.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalCochrane Database Systematics Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Research programs

  • EMC MM-04-44-02

Cite this