SOP myasthenic crisis

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Introduction: The overall prevalence of myasthenic crisis is quite low at 30/1 million inhabitants because myasthenia gravis is a rare disease per se. But it should be noted that 15-20% of patients with myasthenia gravis experience at least one crisis in their lives. Most often, the crisis occurs within the first 2 years of the disease or is even the first manifestation of a yet undiagnosed myasthenia gravis in up to 20%. Median duration of MC is about 2 weeks (median 12-14 days of ventilation) under sufficient treatment, but prolonged courses are not uncommon and often due to comorbidities and complications, so that about 20% are still mechanically ventilated after 1 month. The lifetime risk of recurrence of a crisis is approx. 30%. Data on mortality differ between about 2-5% to even more than 16%. Lethal outcomes are almost never caused by the crisis itself, but because comorbidities or complications eventually become limiting. Definition: Myasthenic crisis (MC) is the life-threatening maximal manifestation of myasthenia gravis (MG) necessitating mechanical ventilation, supportive feeding and (neuro-)intensive care. Weakness may develop within minutes to days and encompass flaccid tetraparesis with immobility, severe dyspnea, respiratory insufficiency and aspiration. Globus events may be life threatening due to rapidly exhausting coughing and swallowing. First steps: immediate measures: Check and secure vital functions Comments: not applicable Conclusion: The main symptom of (imminent) myasthenic crisis is the rapidly progressive weakness of the respiratory and bulbar muscles, which lead to a decompensation with aspiration and respiratory insufficiency. Clinical examination and clinical history should lead early to the diagnosis of MG with (impending) crisis. The detection of red flags and the dynamic deterioration of symptoms entail admission to the intensive care unit. Due to bulbar symptoms with aspiration and/or respiratory insufficency, early intubation to secure the airway is essential. Therapy includes symptomatic treatment with pyridostigmine or neostigmine and acute causal treatment by immunoadsorption/plasmapheresis or alternatively with immunoglobulins. If used early, intubation may still be prevented and clinical improvement can be achieved within a few days. At the same time, immunosuppression with corticosteroids and azathioprine should be initiated or optimized. For escalation rituximab is an option. The early diagnosis and consequent treatment of infections and other complications such as delirium influence the further course.




Stetefeld, H., & Schroeter, M. (2019). SOP myasthenic crisis. Neurological Research and Practice, 1(1).

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