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Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra

versión impresa ISSN 1137-6627


AYUSO, T.  y  JERICO, I.. Emergencies in neuromuscular pathology. Anales Sis San Navarra [online]. 2008, vol.31, suppl.1, pp.115-126. ISSN 1137-6627.

Acute muscle weakness (AMW) is the predominant symptom of neuromuscular emergencies, especially if it affects the respiratory or oropharyngeal musculature . AMW is a multi-etiological syndrome, with different lesion levels in the motor unit. Within the broad group of neuromuscular diseases, those that most frequently provoke AMW and respiratory failure are Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and myasthenia gravis (MG). GBS is the most frequent cause of acute flaccid paralysis; it can cause respiratory failure in a third of cases, making mechanical ventilation necessary. Accurate diagnosis of this syndrome enables immunomodulatory treatment to be started, which has been shown to modify the course of the disease. Besides, clinical evaluation of the patients and knowledge of the simple tests of neurophysiology and respiratory function will guide the decision on mechanical ventilation, avoiding emergency intubation. The most frequent emergency caused by MG is myasthenic crisis, defined by the deterioration in the bulbar function with acute respiratory insufficiency and risk of respiratory stoppage. This occurs in 15-20% of myasthenic patients and can be triggered by numerous factors. Besides early identification of the crisis, it is important to suppress the triggering factors and to provide measure of ventilatory support. Amongst the pharmacological measures, the most useful instruments at present are plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulins; these treatments do not cancel the need for intensive vigilance and of checking for imminent signs of respiratory failure that will involve invasive or non-invasive ventilatory support.

Palabras clave : Acute muscle weakness; Guillain-Barré síndrome; Myasthenic crisis; Neuromuscular respiratory insufficiency.

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