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As part of an investigation of a suspected "outbreak" of Bell's palsy in the Greater Toronto Area, a population-based sample of patients with Bell's palsy was investigated electrophysiologically to help understand the spectrum of abnormalities that can be seen in this setting.
Two hundred and twenty-four patients were surveyed, of whom 91 underwent formal neurological assessment. Of the latter, 44 were studied electrophysiologically using standard techniques. Thirty-two of the 44 patients fulfilled clinical criteria for Bell's palsy.
A wide range of electrophysiological changes was observed. Blink responses were the most useful test showing diagnostic sensitivity of 81% and specificity of 94% compared to the contralateral control side. Needle electromyography was additionally helpful in only one patient of six with normal conduction studies.
There is a wide spectrum of electrophysiological abnormalities in Bell's palsy. Blink reflex latencies may be under-utilized in the assessment of the facial nerve in Bell's palsy. Facial EMG is not generally useful in routine assessment.
To summarize the evidence for neurologic uses of immunoglobulin, intravenous (IGIV) in light of present-day clinical usage. This summary guided the development of practice recommendations for the effective and efficient use of IGIV in Neurology.
MEDLINE was searched to identify pertinent English-language review articles and original reports (n = 231) on the use of IGIV in neurology (excluding editorials, letters, and comments) published before March 1998. Evidence on alternative therapies was only included as compared to IGIV. The relevant original reports and review articles and older classic studies (n = 92) were synthesized into an information foundation. Extracted data included laboratory and clinical findings, objective measures, and clinical impressions. Clinical recommendations were based on evidence quality, graded by study design, clinical experiences of IGIV in Neurology Advisory Board members, and the conditions of IGIV use in therapy.
Results and Conclusions:
In neurology, many disorders are poorly understood, and the mechanisms behind beneficial regimens even less so. As a result, it is fairly common for best-practice decisions to rest on weaker evidence. The usefulness of IGIV in neurology can be described by a “combined score” based on evidence quality and strength of impact. Combined scores ranged from A+ (strongly recommended) to C (recommended as a last resort). The following clinical recommendations are made: IGIV is: strongly recommended for the treatment of Guillain-Barré syndrome (A+); favorably recommended for the treatment of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy, dermatomyositis, and multifocal motor neuropathy (A); recommended as a second resort for the treatment of multiple scerosis and myasthenia gravis (B); and recommended as a last resort for the treatment of polymyositis, inclusion-body myositis, intractable epilepsies, and stiff-man syndrome (C).
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