• Guillain–Barre syndrome;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • neurophysiology;
  • paediatric

Aim:  To review the role of gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of the spine in the diagnosis of paediatric Guillain–Barre syndrome and compare it with nerve conduction studies and cerebrospinal fluid analysis.

Methods:  A retrospective review of investigations undertaken in children admitted to our institution with acute Guillain–Barre syndrome over a 10-year period was performed.

Results:  Seven of eight children (88%) displayed post-gadolinium nerve root enhancement consistent with Guillain–Barre syndrome. This compared with supportive nerve conduction studies in 21/24 children (88%) and cerebrospinal fluid protein analysis consistent with the diagnosis in 16/20 children (80%).

Conclusion:  Nerve conduction studies are the recognised ‘gold standard’ technique for confirming a clinical diagnosis of Guillain–Barre syndrome. In this study, a high positive rate was demonstrated. While more experience is necessary, this study and the literature support gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of the spine as a valuable, although not necessarily superior, investigation in the diagnosis of Guillain–Barre syndrome. It may be of particular benefit when specialist neurophysiology expertise is unavailable.