Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 1963: Guillain-Barre Syndrome

I have a good story to tell you all.

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to see a patient with rapid onset lower extremity paresthesia. No, I'm not trying to be douchey and talk doctor talk. I'm showing you all that I actually learned something this year (the doctor talk ;p). Anyway, rapid onset means it occurred quickly, or even rapidly you could say ;) Lower extremity means legs. Paresthesia means weakness.

I shadowed a neurologist for an hour and watched him go through his examination of a patient. What that entails is testing muscle strength, cranial nerves, vision, abdominal stuff et cetera et cetera. Given the patient's symptoms, and how quickly they came on, I thought it could be a syndrome called Guillain-Barre.

Courtesy of Children's Hospital Boston

Guillain-Barre is also known as acute autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Blah blah blah, words. What it means is that your body attacks the sheath (myelin) around your nerves and you lose sensation and control over your body. It happens slowly but quickly, which means it doesn't happen at once but within a few days to weeks you could be paralyzed. Eep!

Even though the patient's symptoms did not present exactly like Guillain-Barre, it's pretty close and it's one of the ten big diseases neuroscience pushed last semester. I would like to express how utterly pleased I was when the doctor also thought it could be (a variation of) Guillain-Barre. Pleased. Validated. Smart as hell. The whole shebang, I felt it! :)