HealthDay News — Patients who’ve recently undergone surgery — especially those with cancer or autoimmune diseases — experience slightly higher risks of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) soon afterward, according to a study published Neurology: Clinical Practice.

Sara Hocker, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues reviewed the incidence of GBS in Mayo Clinic patients within 2 months of having a surgical procedure between 1995 and 2014. Those with postsurgical GBS were compared to patients who didn’t undergo surgery prior to its onset.

Of the 208 total patients (average age, 55 years) who developed GBS in that time period, 31 had recently undergone surgery. The average time lapse between surgery and GBS onset was 19 days. Notably, 61% of those 31 patients had a known cancer diagnosis, while 29% had a diagnosis of an autoimmune condition, such as ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis.

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“Surgical procedures antedated GBS in 15% of patients, which is unexpectedly high,” the authors wrote. “History of malignancy or autoimmune disease may predispose to development of postsurgical GBS.”


Nagarajan E, Rubin M, Wijdicks EFM, Hocker SE. Guillain-Barré syndrome after surgical procedures. Neurol Clin Pract. 2016; doi:10.​1212/​CPJ.​0000000000000329.