Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acute demyelinating disorder of the peripheral nervous system that results from an aberrant immune response directed at peripheral nerves. Autonomic abnormalities in Guillain-Barré syndrome are usually transient and reversible. We present a case of Guillain-Barré syndrome requiring a permanent pacemaker in view of persistent symptomatic bradyarrhythmia.
An 18-year-old Caucasian female presented with bilateral lower limb paraesthesias followed by bilateral progressive leg weakness and difficulty in walking. She reported an episode of an upper respiratory tract infection 3 weeks prior to the onset of her neurological symptoms. Diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome was considered and a lumbar puncture was performed. Cerebrospinal fluid revealed albuminocytologic dissociation (increased protein but normal white blood cell count) suggestive of Guillain-Barré syndrome and hence an intravenous immunoglobulin G infusion was started. Within 48 hours, she progressed to complete flaccid quadriparesis with involvement of respiratory muscles requiring mechanical ventilatory support. Whist in the intensive care unit, she developed multiple episodes of bradycardia and asystole requiring a temporary pacemaker. In view of the persistent requirement for the temporary pacemaker for more than 5 days, she received a permanent pacemaker. She returned for follow-up three months after discharge with an intermittent need for ventricular pacing.
Guillain-Barré syndrome can result in permanent damage to the cardiac conduction system. Patients with multiple episodes of bradycardia and asystole in the setting of Guillain-Barré syndrome should be evaluated and considered as potential candidates for permanent pacemaker implantation.