Automated (Centrifugal) Therapeutic Plasma Exchange Option for Guillain‑Barre Syndrome: A Report from Calabar, Nigeria
Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is performed frequently and effectively in developed countries, whereas the reverse is the case in developing countries. Guillain‑Barre syndrome (GBS), synonymous with acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, is an important indication for TPE, but this is rarely administered in the treatment of such patients in Nigeria due to lack of such automated facility, limited expertise, and high cost. This report therefore presents an uncommon case of GBS in which automated TPE was utilized in the management, with the aims of highlighting the current status and challenges of therapeutic apheresis services in Nigeria. A 42‑year‑old male presented with rapidly progressive (in an ascending fashion) paralysis of all four limbs within 24 h without any preceding history of fever or other symptoms. Clinical examination revealed a young man, afebrile, not pale, and also not dehydrated. Central nervous system examination showed a conscious man, alert, and oriented in time, person, and place. There were no signs of meningeal irritation and the cranial nerves were grossly intact. There was no power in the limbs: global hypotonia and areflexia were noted on examination. However, he had intact sensory perceptions to touch and pain. Following a diagnosis of GBS, he was treated with four sessions of plasmapheresis and TPE. The TPE session was done using a discontinuous flow apheresis machine which exchanged one plasma volume (3 L of plasma) and 5% albumin used for replacement. The patient made gradual but steady recovery as return of power to the upper limbs and trunk started by the 2nd week of treatment. TPE is an important treatment modality in the management of GBS as well as several other conditions, and it is becoming increasingly available in Nigeria. However, it is still grossly underutilized, thus the need for more therapeutic apheresis facilities and trained personnel, in addition to concerted efforts to subsidize the cost of accessing the treatment.
Keywords: Guillain‑Barre syndrome, therapeutic apheresis, therapeutic plasma exchange