GBS Diagnosis and Treatment

Due to the potential for long-term complications, anyone experiencing symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) or a GBS variant following a vaccination should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Since GBS is a rare disorder with symptoms that can be indicative of a wide range of other health conditions, when seeking treatment, it is important to describe all symptoms as thoroughly as possible and to let your doctor know about your recent vaccination. Generally speaking, the treatment methods for GBS can start immediately; and, the sooner an accurate diagnosis is obtained, the sooner the recovery process can begin.

How Do Doctors Diagnose GBS?

When examining a patient who presents with symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome or a GBS variant, physicians will often conduct medical screenings that can help confirm a GBS diagnosis. These screenings include assessing the patient’s creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and electrolyte levels, liver function, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. When the patient’s symptoms suggest a demyelinating variant – such as acute or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP or CIDP) – examining the patient’s nerve conduction rate and F-wave and distal latency durations can provide the medical evidence needed to provide a diagnosis with a high rate of confidence.

Depending upon the symptoms presented, the patient’s medical history, and the patient’s clinical screening results, a physician may also recommend:

  • Electromyography (EMG) – EMG tests examine the cause of muscle weakness and can help differentiate between injuries involving muscle damage and disorders involving nerve damage (such as GBS).
  • Nerve conduction studies – Examining nerve conduction can reveal the location and extent of the damage to the nerves caused by GBS.
  • Spinal tap or lumbar puncture – A spinal tap or lumbar puncture can be used to examine the levels of protein in a patient’s cerebrospinal fluid. Above-normal levels of protein can be indicative of GBS.

What are the Treatment Options for GBS?

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barre Syndrome. As a result, the treatment methods for GBS and its variants focus on symptom management. The two most common treatment methods for GBS are:

  • Plasmapheresis – Plasmapheresis (also known as plasma exchange therapy) is a medical treatment procedure that involves cleansing the plasma from a patient’s blood so that new plasma can be introduced into the blood stream.
  • Immunoglobulin therapy – Immunoglobulin therapy (also known as intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a process that involves injecting healthy proteins into the body that the body then uses to counteract the nerve-damaging effects of the autoimmune response triggered by GBS.

In addition to these primary forms of treatment, doctors treating patients with GBS will often prescribe other therapies and equipment to aid in the patient’s recovery and reduce the chances of a significant relapse. For example, physical therapy is common (and often necessary) to rebuild muscle strength and regain mobility as the nerves begin to heal. Physicians may also prescribe the use of ventilators, heart monitors and other medical devices during treatment in order to reduce the risk of respiratory dysfunction and other potential complications.

Nationwide Legal Representation for Individuals Diagnosed with Vaccine-Related GBS

The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is a national law firm that represents individuals who have been diagnosed with GBS following influenza and tetanus vaccinations. To find out how we may be able to help you recover financial compensation at no cost to you, please call (202) 800-1711 or request a free consultation online today.

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