Ann Rehabil Med.  2013 Oct;37(5):745-749. 10.5535/arm.2013.37.5.745.

Syringomyelia Coexisting With Guillain-Barre Syndrome

  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) and syringomyelia are diseases of different entities. GBS is an acute post-infectious autoimmune disease which is mediated by autoantibodies against the myelin of peripheral nerves. Syringomyelia is a chronic disease characterized by a cavity extending longitudinally inside the spinal cord. A 67-year-old man is being hospitalized due to severe numbness and ascending weakness in all limbs. On neurological examination, the motor power of all limbs are decreased and show absence of deep tendon reflexes (DTRs). The patient is being diagnosed with GBS on the basis of the acute clinical course, nerve conduction studies of segmental demyelinating polyneuropathy, and a finding of albuminocytologic dissociation in the cerebrospinal fluid. The patient is presented with a new set of symptoms thereafter, which composes of sensory changes in the upper extremities, the urinary dysfunction including frequency and residual urine, spastic bilateral lower extremities, and increased reflexes of the knee and the biceps at follow-up examinations. The spinal magnetic resonance imaging in the sagittal section revealed a syrinx cavity between the fifth cervical and the first thoracic vertebral segment in the cord. The somatosensory evoked potential show sensory pathway defects between both the brachial plexus and the brain stem. Thus, this patient is being diagnosed with both GBS and syringomyelia. We report a case of symptomatic syringomyelia coexisting with GBS. Since the GBS is presented with a progressive muscle weakness and reduced DTRs, the muscle weakness and stiffness in the extremities suggests a concurrent syringomyelia might be easily overlooked.


Guillain-Barre syndrome; Syringomyelia; Posttraumatic syringomyelia
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