Prevalence and mechanism of bladder dysfunction in Guillain–Barré Syndrome


  • Conflicts of interest: none.



To examine the prevalence and mechanism of urinary dysfunction in GBS.


Urinary symptoms were observed and neurological examinations made repeatedly during hospitalization of 65 consecutive patients with clinico-neurophysiologically definite GBS. The patients included 41 men, 24 women; mean age, 41 years old; mean Hughes motor grade, 3; AIDP, 28, AMAN, 37. Urodynamic studies consisted of uroflowmetry, measurement of post-micturition residuals, medium-fill water cystometry, and external anal sphincter electromyography.


Urinary dysfunction was observed in 27.7% of GBS cases (urinary retention, 9.2%). Urinary dysfunction was related to the Hughes motor grade (P < 0.05), defecatory dysfunction (P < 0.05), age (P < 0.05), and negatively related to serum IgG class anti-ganglioside antibody GalNAc-GD1a (P < 0.05). Urinary dysfunction was more common in AIDP (39%) than in AMAN (19%). No association was found between antibody titer against neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and urinary dysfunction. Urodynamic studies in nine patients, mostly performed within 8 weeks after disease onset, revealed post-void residual in 3 (mean 195 ml), among those who were able to urinate; decreased bladder sensation in 1; detrusor overactivity in 8; low compliance in 1; underactive detrusor in 7 (both overactive and underactive detrusor in 5); and nonrelaxing sphincter in 2.


In our series of GBS cases, 27.7% of the patients had urinary dysfunction, including urinary retention in 9.2%. Underactive detrusor, overactive detrusor, and to a lesser extent, hyperactive sphincter are the major urodynamic abnormalities. The underlying mechanisms of urinary dysfunction appear to involve both hypo- and hyperactive lumbosacral nerves. Neurourol. Urodynam. 28:432–437, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.