General FAQs

CIDP IvIg Double Vision

Q: One of our members with CIDP has been struggling with double vision for the last few days following his latest treatment of IvIg. He has been referred by his optician to an ophthalmologist, but unfortunately, has to wait two weeks before he can be seen. He has been receiving IvIg for two years, and this is the first time the problem has occurred. He has emailed his neurologist but hasn’t had a response yet, and in the meantime was wondering if it was something we were familiar with, as he is quite concerned.

Is double vision a recognised symptom of CIDP / treatment with IvIg, and if so, is it likely to be long term or something that should pass relatively quickly? Is it something that spectacles could help correct or is he stuck with it for as long as it lasts?

A: He does need to be seen. It could be a viscosity problem with the ivig. It may well settle. Sometimes prism glasses help but a diagnosis is needed.

Diagnosis CIDP & AIDP

Q: We have come across two people this week who have been diagnosed with CIDP and AIDP concurrently. Is this something you’ve encountered?

A: A few patients get recurrent attacks of GBS with recovery in between. I suspect this is all one disease not two but It is what you call it is tricky.

Diagnosis Other Neuropathies

Q: The person involved has developed a ‘rare neuropathy’, being on life support for a prolonged period (9 weeks) following a serious car accident. The neuropathy has resulted in almost complete paralysis and he has both axonal damage and myelin damage. Might this be related to GBS or a variant?

A: This is probably “critical illness neuropathy” which is a separate disease that occasionally gets confused with GBS and vice versa.

Diagnosis Timescale

Q: What is the maximum timescale for obtaining a confirmed diagnosis of GBS, etc following initial onset of symptoms? For instance, would protein levels be expected to have returned to normal after a few days or weeks or is it still possible to diagnosis GBS through lumbar puncture / EMG at a later stage (i.e. several weeks or even months after onset)?

A: I am not sure I can give you a simple answer to this.

  • Lumbar puncture – CSF protein levels can occasionally remain normal throughout the illness although they usually rise over the first couple of weeks.
  • EMG – The electrics usually remain abnormal for many years / permanently although in an occasional case they return to normal quickly.
GBS and other autoimmune diseases

Q: I had GBS roughly 10 years ago and now have Myasthenia Gravis. Is this common?

A: Although GBS and Myasthenia Gravis are both autoimmune diseases, they are not linked; GBS affects the peripheral nerves and MG affects movement muscles. Having had one of these conditions doesn’t make you any more or less likely to develop the other.

GBS and Statins

Q: Can the use of statins cause GBS?

A: There was a report [circa 2004] of a disorder resembling Guillain-Barré syndrome, occurring on initiation of simvastatin in a 58-year-old man who had experienced a similar but milder episode after starting pravastatin 6 months earlier. This case suggested that acute polyradiculoneuropathy may represent a rare but serious side-effect of statin treatment. Dr Yusuf Rajabally, a member of our MAB, wrote an article on this case which was published in Muscle & Nerve magazine in November 2004.

Dr Rajabally states that this was an interesting but isolated case. There is no evidence that statins can cause GBS, especially considering the very widespread use of this drug, and the rare reports as the one published in 2004.


Q: The family has been told that; ‘as there has been no improvement and the heart is weak, that if he arrests, they will not resuscitate’. They are very distressed by this, and want to know what they need to be asking the doctors.

In very general terms, is there any further advice we can offer? We don’t know if the ‘weak heart’ is due to an underlying condition, or purely down to GBS. In terms of there being ‘no improvement’, the timescale (approx. two months post diagnosis) might suggest he is still in a plateau phase and may yet hope for recovery?

A: It is difficult. If [GBS was diagnosed two months ago] there is still a good chance of recovery and I would be asking the doctors whether they think he has a poor chance of recovering and if so why. This would then inform any decision not to resuscitate.

GBS possibly triggering other conditions

Q: We have received a request for information from the mother of a 16 year old who had GBS in 2002 at the age of 3. Since then, she has had a number of health issues, and is currently trying to establish whether she may be suffering from a form of PoTS or Dysautonomia, the symptoms of which started after a vaccination for HPV at the age of 12. She wonders whether GBS could have potentially been a trigger for PoTS as other neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Lyme disease are apparently recognised triggers.

A: This is pretty difficult to answer. GBS can cause persistent dysautonomia but it is very rare. I am not aware of a post GBS POTS as such.

GBS symptoms

Q: Can you describe the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

A: The symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome initially develop over a few hours or days and then may continue to get worse over a few days or weeks.

The first signs of GBS usually start in the hands and feet before spreading to the arms and legs. They usually affect both sides of the body at the same time and can include:

  • Pins and needles
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Balance and co-ordination problems

The severity of symptoms varies but Guillain-Barré syndrome usually peaks at around four weeks, at which point sufferers may experience:

  • Paralysis of legs, arms and/or face
  • Difficulty walking without help
  • Problems with speaking, swallowing or chewing
  • Constipation and difficulties passing urine
  • Problems with breathing
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Constant severe pain

Symptoms may persist for a few weeks or months before the patient begins to feel better.

If you begin to notice the early signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome and they persist or worsen, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. If you start to struggle to breathe or swallow, or you experience paralysis in your limbs, you should call an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department immediately.

HBOT Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Q: I have been asked whether here is any evidence to support the use of HBOT in the treatment of and recovery from GBS. My understanding is that there have been no reliable studies done to date, and was wondering whether you are able to comment?

A: I don’t think there is any evidence this helps at all. If there was then we would all be using it.

Immune system After GBS

Q: My boyfriend had GBS 3 years ago and I have just been told I have the flu. I wanted to ask you guys when you think it may be safe to have any contact with him again due to his weakened immune system.

A: There is no added danger of catching the flu in patients that have recovered from GBS unless they have some other reason for immunodeficiency.

Immune system CIDP

Q: I have CIDP and I seem to have contracted a virus affecting my nose/throat. It seems to be lasting and I’m knackered! I don’t totally understand the effect on the immune system, do you know if any colds etc. last longer with CIDP?

A: There is no evidence that the immune system is inhibited in CIDP and in general the hypothesis is that it is overactive. Some general diseases such as diabetes and paraprotein disease may be associated with CIDP but cause immuno-suppression themselves.

IvIg versus Plasmapheresis

Q: Is plasmapheresis more effective than IvIg or the other way around?

A: Plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin (IvIg) produce similar results, and neither is considered to be more efficacious than the other. Several years ago, plasmapheresis was the usual treatment, but IvIg is now more common as it does not require specialist equipment and is far simpler to administer. However, as immunoglobulin thickens the blood slightly, plasmapheresis may be considered if there is an underlying medical reason not to use immunoglobulin such as a history of kidney failure or heart disease.

Whichever is used, both plasmapheresis and IvIg are believed to be most effective in the early stages following diagnosis. Both are generally thought to have little or no effect after the first couple of weeks, unless the patient continues to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, although either one of of these treatments may help, on average halving the duration of the illness, neither plasmapheresis nor IvIg carries any guarantee of having any effect at all, and the syndrome simply continues to run its course. Sadly, we know that around 15% of patients will experience severe and perhaps irreparable nerve damage regardless of whether or not they receive IvIg or plasmapheresis in the early stages following diagnosis, and regrettably, those with a diagnosis of AMAN stand a poorer chance of achieving a good recovery than with non-axonal GBS.

Other autoimmune diseases

Q: A gentleman who had GBS earlier this year has now been diagnosed with another autoimmune disease, Bullous Pemphigoid. Is there any connection that you know of, or is it, as they suspect just bad luck?

A: Probably just bad luck

Pregnancy CIDP

Q: I have had an enquiry from a young woman recently diagnosed with CIDP. To date she has been treated with IvIg and steroids. I have sent her the information we have available, but she wants to know more about becoming pregnant with CIDP as she and her husband were hoping to start a family soon.
From re-reading the CIDP literature and the GBS and Pregnancy booklet, my understanding is that having CIDP and receiving IvIg should not be a hurdle to a successful pregnancy, but that levels of weakness, etc should be considered if deciding to go ahead with starting a family, as with GBS. Not so sure about steroids?

Is there anything else specifically connected with CIDP that should be taken into account?

A: What you have gleaned is correct: Ivig is ok in pregnancy, steroids much more of a concern. She needs to discuss this with her neurologist though so advice can be tailored to her own individual needs.

Pregnancy Post GBS

Q: We’ve had an enquiry from a lady who had GBS 13 years ago. She wants to start a family and is worried that she will develop GBS again. In your opinion, can changes in hormones trigger GBS and is it more likely if you have had it before?

A: Recurrence of GBS in pregnancy must be vanishingly rare. You can say that almost all patients that get pregnant post GBS have deliveries no differently than anyone else. I don’t think this is a significant risk worth worrying about.

Q: I was wondering about an epidural as I know I have read up that sometimes doctors advise against this due to GBS but I wondered why this was?

A: There is no reason why an epidural shouldn’t be given if it is deemed appropriate and beneficial for the usual considerations, just as for anyone else. We have never heard of a case of an epidural triggering GBS.

Many doctors are unfamiliar with GBS and will err on the side of caution if they can’t give a definitive answer. Our information is based on a great deal of knowledge and experience drawn from several of the UK’s leading experts in GBS and CIDP. Pregnancy can bring with it all sorts of complications and surprises, but there is no reason to believe your pregnancy and delivery will be any different from anyone else’s.

Radiotherapy and the immune system

Q: GBS diagnosed 3 years ago but recently treated for breast cancer. I’ve had an operation to remove the cancerous cells but now face radiotherapy. I would like some advice as to the suitability of such treatment on my immune system. Very few health professionals know of GBS and its effect so can you help me please?

A: Not aware of any specific contraindication for radiotherapy

Reactions to ivig

Q: I have had CIDP for many years. In July I was given my 1st infusion of immunoglobulin and had a bad reaction after the 3rd dose and it was stopped. Having seen the neurologist we tried again over 5 days at a much slower rate. Day 1 o.k day 2 sent to the Acute Assessment Unit with Sinus Tachycardia. Neurologist now wants me to see a cardiologist, have been waiting 3 weeks, rather a worried. Have you ever heard of this before?

A: Several side effects of intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG) therapy are known, but it has never been reported to be associated with cardiac rhythm abnormalities other than sinus tachycardia. Cardiac rhythm abnormalities may be exacerbated in individuals with pre-existing cardiac problems by IVIG infusion, and such patients should be monitored closely during IVIG administration.
Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology 1997 May-Jun;19(3):254-7.

Recurrence Genealogy

Q: The GP I saw gave me interesting information about the gene that predisposes one to GB and said if I ever did get it again, it would be milder.’ Is there any evidence that this is the case?

A: No.

Related Conditions Autonomic Dysreflexia

Q: One of our members has asked a question about a possible correlation between GBS and Autonomic Dysreflexia. She had GBS and then later developed Autonomic Dysreflexia, and her neurologist indicated they were linked. We hadn’t come across this before, and as far as we can tell from information available via the NHS website, the condition appears to be caused by paralysis from having had a spinal cord injury. In your experience, is it possible that paralysis as a result of GBS could trigger this condition?

A: For those patients in ITU with GBS the involvement of the autonomic system is not uncommon, and can be tricky to manage. I haven’t personally seen anyone with GBS, who got better, and then went on to have autonomic problems which were new – in the sense that GBS usually is monophasic – but I do have other patients who have more chronic neuropathies with an autonomic component. The timings and current thinking of what the patients diagnosis is is rather key here.

Residuals Psychological

Q: Is there a known link between GBS and mood swings or aggressive behaviour in adolescents?

A: No known connection apart of course from the psychological effects of the past illness especially if severe.

Residuals Trembling Hands

Q: Had GBS two and a half years ago and has ongoing problems with trembling hands. Although Parkinson’s has been ruled out, he has been unable to determine the cause. Are you aware of this as a residual effect of GBS?

A: You can get tremor post GBS and he needs to discuss with his neurologist.


Q: Should someone who has had GBS or has CIDP get a flu or COVID vaccination?

A: Seasonal flu & COVID19 vaccine

Professor Michael Lunn MA MBBS FRCP PhD, Consultant Neurologist and Professor of Clinical Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London advises:  “One vaccine is not the same as another. The only reason that one advises against flu vaccine in someone with GBS is if they actually had GBS in the 6 week window after a flu vaccine and then only out of an abundance of caution which is not based on any real science. The rate of GBS after flu vaccine in all assessed years after 1976 has been about 1 per million and no study has linked vaccination to recurrence of GBS or CIDP. COVID vaccine is nothing like flu vaccine.  Although there have been a small number of people who have developed GBS for the first time following the COVID vaccine, the risk of serious illness and complications from COVID are greater.”

Most vaccinations do not cause GBS.

The influenza (‘flu) vaccine changes every year. In some years this has caused a few cases of GBS, most notably in 1976. The risk remains extremely small. For every one million people who receive an influenza vaccine, only about one case of GBS is caused. In most years, influenza vaccine does not cause GBS at all.

Although some neurologists advise people to avoid vaccinations for 6-12 months after onset of GBS, this is purely precautionary. Several scientific studies have shown very little or no causal link between vaccinations and GBS, concluding that vaccinations do not trigger a recurrence and are as safe for people who have had GBS as for anyone else.

GBS is a one-off condition that is unlikely to happen again. After recovering from GBS, the risk of ever developing GBS again (many years later) is about 1 in 30 (2 – 5%).

The risk of triggering GBS from the annual seasonal flu vaccine is far lower than the risk from flu infection.

Most people don’t need a flu jab. However, if you are in an at-risk group, or you live or work closely with people for whom flu might be severe or life-threatening, then you should be vaccinated, to protect yourself and others.

Public Health England states in The national influenza immunisation programme 2020 to 2021 that

‘Previous GBS is not a contraindication to influenza vaccination. A UK study found no association between GBS and influenza vaccines although there was a strong association between GBS and influenza-like illness. A causal relationship between immunisation with influenza vaccine and GBS has not been established.’

This is further supported by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which states:

‘The balance of epidemiological evidence is not sufficient to confirm that currently used influenza vaccines are causally associated with the development of GBS. As GBS also occurs naturally in the vaccinated population, and particularly because flu-like illness is a known risk factor for GBS, a number of cases are reported each year in temporal association with vaccination. This does not mean the vaccine was the cause.

Recent data supports the findings made in previous studies that an influenza vaccination may trigger GBS in fewer than 1 in 1,000,000 people vaccinated. There were approximately 14,000,000 people vaccinated in the UK during 2019/20 and there were 11 reports submitted through the yellow card scheme for the same period.

These may be true side-effects, or they may be due to concurrent diagnosed or undiagnosed illness, other medicines or they may be purely co-incidental events that would have occurred anyway in the absence of therapy. Based on current evidence, the MHRA findings are that these reports do not indicate a causal relationship between influenza vaccine and GBS.’

GAIN adds that this is supported by independent research showing colds and flu-like illnesses are triggers for GBS. The seasonal flu vaccination is a very low risk trigger, with approximately 1 case of GBS triggered per 1,000,000 vaccinations compared with 1 case of GBS per 60,000 cases of flu1.

A large retrospective study2 entitled Vaccines and the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome was published in 2020. In comparing 1,056 cases of GBS with 4,312 controls, Chen et al found no increased risk of GBS or its recurrence among either children or adults within 180 days following vaccinations of any kind, including influenza vaccination. Therefore, previous case reports of GBS shortly after receiving several other vaccines were probably merely coincidental.

On vaccinations in general, our Medical Advisory Board advises:

  • DON’T have unnecessary vaccines for travel but DO have all travel vaccines that are recommended for the particular area you are travelling to.
  • DO have all vaccines that are ‘necessary’. This includes the flu vaccine (if you are in an at risk group), MMR, DTP, Shingles, pneumovax, HIF, COVID-19, etc. There are monitoring programmes ongoing so a link would be picked up if it occurred.
  • COVID-19 is a more serious disease than influenza and more easily caught. Most people with GBS or CIDP should receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines, except perhaps people with a history of severe allergy requiring an Epipen.

Vaccines currently in use are amongst the safest medicines available. However, there is no simple ‘yes or no’ answer, and each person must weigh up the risks of not having a vaccination against the very small possible risk from having it.

Having relatively mild side effects such as numbness and tingling is quite common following a vaccination, and is almost certainly nothing to be concerned about. If you have had GBS in the past, or if you have an associated chronic neuropathy such as CIDP, a vaccination might cause a slight ‘flare-up’ of symptoms due to your immune system being stimulated. Most will only last a few days, but if they last longer than this, or if symptoms get worse or start spreading, then I would suggest contacting your GP.  Anyone can report side effects of medication or vaccines, regardless of severity, and if you would like to do so, please follow this link;

1Jeffrey C. Kwong, Priya P. Vasa, Michael A. Campitelli, Steven Hawken, Kumanan Wilson, Laura C. Rosella, Therese A. Stukel, Natasha S. Crowcroft, Allison J. McGeer, Lorne Zinman and Shelley L. Deeks The risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome following seasonal influenza vaccination and influenza healthcare encounters, a self-controlled study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol. 13, No. 9, p730–731 Published: June 28, 2013

2Chen, Y., Zhang, J., Chu, X. et al. Vaccines and the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Eur J Epidemiol 35,363–370 (2020).


Q: Dad was diagnosed with GBS 6 weeks ago. His initial problem was his heart valves which we have since postponed the operation. My question is how soon can he be operated on. Can they operate with him having GBS, or is that out of the question? If he does not get new heart valves he will slowly deteriorate and possibly pass away.

A: There is a balance here between how much he needs the heart surgery. It would be better to wait until he has recovered or at least 3 to 6 months if his heart disease can wait that long?

Surgery Anaesthetic Autonomic Nerve Damage

Q: Expecting a second hip replacement op. There was nothing mentioned when she had the first op, but she has a new surgeon now, who has suggested that having an anaesthetic can be problematic following GBS, and may trigger another episode.

A: There is no strong evidence for this and any risk would be very small. The anaesthetist has to be aware of the previous GBS in case there is any residual autonomic nerve damage.

Surgery CIDP

Q: I have had a call from a gentleman with CIDP who is due to have a triple heart bypass very soon. He isn’t receiving IvIg (doctor said advisable to wait until after the surgery). I mentioned that the anaesthetist needs to be aware that he has CIDP. In your opinion is there anything else that needs to be considered, or will CIDP have no effect on the procedure?

A: Shouldn’t have much effect unless he is on steroids as well.

Symptoms Dry Mouth

Q: I am working with someone with GBS who is mainly better but still suffering from dry mouth. Is there any research on this following GBS and ways to help the problem?

A: There is nothing documented. Your colleague should consult their GP in case their dry mouth is caused by an underlying health problem.

Treatment CIDP

Q: I have a friend with CIDP. I have known him for 8 years now, and it hasn’t got any better. He has been diagnosed and has regular treatment. I was just wondering if anyone knew if stem cell treatment works? I think something was mentioned in the US about it curing people with CIDP. Naturally though, every ones case is a little different. Do you have any information on this? Anything would be useful. I look forward to hearing from you.

A: Gene therapy, or stem cell therapy may work at some point in the future, but at the moment is miles away in the treatment of GBS and CIDP. It is inadvisable to seek experimental therapy outside the UK

Treatment CIDP

Q: Is there any evidence that treatment via corticosteroids, plasma exchange or IVIG can stop the loss of the myelin sheath or axon damage? If the answer is yes, how is this confirmed, as I am told that the nerve conduction studies are not accurate enough to measure any improvement or deterioration?

A: We believe that active treatment of CIDP does lead to repair and regeneration of nerves and myelin although this is an inference and has not been proved on histology. Some patients make a full recovery with treatment and have no deficit so presumable in them the repair process has been very good. Electrophysiology will often suggest improvement in patients that do not become asymptomatic but there is a poor correlation between function and electrical measurements.

Treatment CIDP and HSCT

Q: (Sept 2014) Would you be able to tell me if there are any trials in the UK being undertaken regarding CIDP and HSCT (Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation)?

A: Not as far as I know but there have been cases entered in the USA.

Treatment CIDP IvIg & ScIg

Q: One of our members with CIDP is keen to take part in a trial for subcutaneuos IvIg, and was wondering how to find out whether there is any intention to trial sub-cutaneous Ig treatment in his area?


1. He could try writing to the head of his local immunology service, who have far more patients on ig and usually lead the way on home services in most areas of the country where s/c is up and running

2. He needs to discuss this with his neurologist who may be able to refer him for initiation of SC treatment usually via immunology. We have just started using sc ivig on a small number of our patients but there are logistic problems with setting it up and not all centres will be able (or will want) to do it immediately.

Treatment CIDP IvIg & ScIg

Q: One of our members with CIDP is trying to get his local NHS Trust to allow him to have subcutaneous immunoglobulin rather than his regular treatments of intravenous immunoglobulin for which he must attend hospital for several days at a time.

He feels that switching to ScIg would improve his quality of life, but so far he isn’t making any progress. He would like to produce evidence in support of his argument from a cost perspective, and was wondering whether there are any figures available which he could draw upon?

Do you know of any statistics regarding effectiveness or cost that may help in pursuit of home treatment? 1. A number of centres are piloting sc Ig for CIDP including our own. It seems just as effective as the IV preparation but the correct dose of SC Ig is a bit of guesswork and patients receiving high doses of IvIg may have problems getting equivalent doses SC because of volumes required for injection. Your patient needs to talk this through with his nearest local expert. Figures on cost are difficult to correctly ascertain since there are fixed costs to having a CIDP service and bed usage may or may not be easily used for alternative treatments. i don’t think the cost argument is strong but the patient convenience argument is a good one.

2. SCIG should be about the same as IVIG in terms of drug cost. There is a theoretical basis to there being a 20-30% increase in dose for SCIG but most patients stay on the same dose. The hardware for SCIG at home is more costly and there are costs for delivery, but there are also the costs freed up in terms of health service beds. It is probably about cost neutral


1. A number of centres are piloting sc Ig for CIDP including our own. It seems just as effective as the IV preparation but the correct dose of SC Ig is a bit of guesswork and patients receiving high doses of IvIg may have problems getting equivalent doses SC because of volumes required for injection. Your patient needs to talk this through with his nearest local expert. Figures on cost are difficult to correctly ascertain since there are fixed costs to having a CIDP service and bed usage may or may not be easily used for alternative treatments. i don’t think the cost argument is strong but the patient convenience argument is a good one.

2. SCIG should be about the same as IVIG in terms of drug cost. There is a theoretical basis to there being a 20-30% increase in dose for SCIG but most patients stay on the same dose. The hardware for SCIG at home is more costly and there are costs for delivery, but there are also the costs freed up in terms of health service beds. It is probably about cost neutral

Treatment CIDP WBC count

Q: Would you expect someone to be refused IvIg if they have an elevated White Blood Cell countunder, or might it be worth seeking an alternative referral?

A: I think this is a query for a Consultant or GP. There are some serious conditions that raise your white cell count and some very minor ones. I cannot comment without some more info. It would be better for the patient to ask the GP for clarification.

Treatment FES

Q: I have just heard of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) as helpful for MS sufferers to aid walking. Do you know if this has been tried for CIDP?

A: FES is not usually very good for a peripheral nerve problem but better for MS and central nervous system disease.

Treatment for pain FSM (Frequency Specific Microcurrent)

Q: Has anyone here heard of FSM – frequency specific microcurrent? We’re honeymooning in America and the doctor we spoke to at Urgent Care to get extra medication said we should look into it because its used here for people with fibromyalgia amongst other things, and ‘resets the nerves’….too good to be true?!

A: FSM is not a treatment that is recognised here in the UK, and there is no evidence that it is a genuine or proven form of treatment.

Treatment GBS IvIg Thickening of Blood

Q: We have had a question regarding a patient who suffered brain damage after receiving immunoglobulin (treatment was stopped due to kidney problems), and they are asking:

a) whether the abnormalities in the brain could in any way have been caused by immunoglobulin
b) can receiving immunoglobulin cause ‘sticky blood’?

A: IvIg can very occasionally cause a stroke. Yes blood can be sticky.

Treatment HSCT

Q: What is HSCT?

A: Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation is also known as blood and marrow transplantation (BMT). It is used to treat a wide spectrum of disorders. It is broadly divided into two main groups: autologous and allogeneic transplantation.

Allogeneic haemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is used to treat carefully selected patients with a range of malignant and non-malignant blood-related disorders and other specific disorders of the immune system. It involves replacing the bone marrow stem cells of a patient following high-dose therapy, with stem cells from a tissue-type matched or mismatched donor.

Autologous transplantation uses the patient’s own stem cells, which are harvested prior to high-dose therapy. It enables the patient to be treated with doses of chemotherapy which are higher than would be possible without subsequent replacement of the harvested cells, because the therapy destroys the patient’s remaining stem cell tissue.

The scientific evidence for these treatments is not clear cut, relying on clinical expertise and consensus. This policy will promote equity of access to treatment in England. It confirms the indications for which the NHS CB has agreed routine funding and the route for obtaining funding for conditions outside this policy (abstract taken from

Treatment Mild GBS IvIg

Q: Diagnosed approx 3 weeks ago and discharged after one week. He didn’t receive immunoglobulin treatment as he remained able to stand. In a lot of pain, and is unable to sleep because of it. Might it still be beneficial to consider immunoglobulin treatment, even at this late stage?

A: There is no good evidence that giving IvIg to a mild case 4 or more weeks post onset would be beneficial.

Treatment of autoimmune diseases

Q: Can antigen-specific immunotherapy help in the treatment of GBS, CIDP and associated inflammatory neuropathies?

A: Tolerance has been an attractive target for treatments for chronic autoimmune disease for some time. The problem is that you need to have an antigen that causes the disease and we still do not have that for CIDP. GBS is perhaps too acute for this to be a very successful strategy.

Triggers Campylobacter Jejuni

Q: I contracted AMAN in Sept 2009. What is interesting in my case is that myself, my wife and my two children all contracted campylobacter food poisoning after eating the same meal in Spain whilst on holiday, but I was the only one to get GBS some 10 days later.

A: The situation you describe is not unique – indeed it is rather typical of multiple Cj [Campylobacter jejuni] infection outbreaks that only a small proportion develops GBS.

Triggers Glandular Fever

Q: Has GBS been linked to glandular fever with regard to reduced immunity as glandular fever stays in the blood for two years? I had it 9 months before GBS.

A: When we talk of associations we infer that there has been a clear temporal relationship between the illness and the GBS, so typically in the 4-6 weeks prior to GBS. Therefore I would say that a 9 month gap is outside the window where any epidemiological link could be established.

Triggers Humira (treatment for rheumatoid arthritis)

Q: Asking for advice on Humira (generic name adalimumab) for Rheumatoid Arthritis as worried it can cause GBS to recur.

A: This is a difficult one and I would be cautious about using Humira which is associated with occasional cases of CIDP and MMN. If absolutely essential and balanced against other side effects yes but otherwise no.

Vaccinations Holiday

Q: My husband was diagnosed 4 years ago with GBS. We are now travelling to Malaysia and Indonesia for one month this autumn. I wanted to ask if you have any recommendations regarding which vaccines to avoid. My doctor said that she understood it was only ‘live’ vaccines that may cause a problem. We are looking at Japanese encephalitis and Rabies injections. Can you give me any guidance?


1. In general the risk of any vaccine causing a problem is very small according to the latest studies. I don’t think there is evidence that live vaccines are worse than any others but this depends on many things including medication and general health and background illness.

2. The patient has done the right thing in asking their own GP as they are best placed to give individual advice re risks and benefits (eg with the knowledge if there was any vaccine trigger for the patient’s own gbs in the first place)

However both rabies and jap b encephalitis vaccines have been described as very rarely triggering gbs (in
previously healthy people), as is the case for many vaccines.

Our own survey of ex gbs patients did not uncover any ex gbs patients who have been given either vaccine, so there is not much informaiton out there as to what happens in ex gbs patients given the vaccines.

Both illnesses can be fatal though, so I think if it were me I would have the vaccines if they would be advised for visitors to the areas in question.

Variants MMN/MMNCB

Q: Could you give me any information please about differences in diagnosis and treatment between MMN and MMN with conduction block? Is it a very different condition or are there similarities?

A: It is the same disease. Conduction block is typical but sometimes you can’t find block but are still convinced that it is MMN.

VitB12 deficiency

Q: Is there any information linking VitB12 deficiency with Guillain Barre Syndrome?

A: Although there are a few similarities between some of the symptoms of GBS and those of Vit B12 deficiency, there is no link between the two conditions.

Variants Miller Fisher

Q: My husband was diagnosed with the above disease [Miller Fisher] about 30 years ago. He is now 85 and suffering with a form of leukaemia. His eye which was affected at the time is causing a lot of problems with build up of fluid beneath and his eyesight in this eye is really bad. He was told that there is a sheet behind the eye that should be smooth, but in his case is wrinkled. Is this a legacy of the miller fisher syndrome?

A: No, this is not related to Miller Fisher.