What is the prognosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)?

Updated: May 04, 2018
  • Author: Michael T Andary, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Milton J Klein, DO, MBA  more...
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Answer

Short of death, the worst-case scenario in GBS is tetraplegia within 24 hours, with incomplete recovery after 18 months or longer. The best-case scenario is mild difficulty walking, with recovery within weeks. The usual scenario, however, is peak weakness in 10-14 days, with recovery in weeks to months. Average time on a ventilator (without treatment) is 50 days. There are likely many mild cases of GBS that are never definitively diagnosed, and patients make full recovery without treatment. The spectrum of milder disease has not been well studied nor clarified.

Approximately 80% patients with GBS walk independently at 6 months, and about 60% of patients attain full recovery of motor strength by 1 year. Recovery in approximately 5-10% of patients with GBS is prolonged, with several months of ventilator dependency and a very delayed, incomplete recovery.


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