Acute flaccid paralysis

Last revised by Dr Rohit Sharma on 11 Jun 2022

Acute flaccid paralysis is a syndrome resulting from a wide array of underlying conditions. The features are of a fairly rapidly progressing lower motor neuron pattern weakness with potential involvement not only of the limbs but also of muscles of the pharynx, trunk and diaphragm 1

Historically poliomyelitis was the most common cause and many health authorities have ongoing reporting guidelines 3,4.

There are numerous causes of acute flaccid paralysis (see below) and these causes also vary dramatically between different populations. As such all ages and genders are affected, and these are discussed separately. 

Patients presenting with acute flaccid paralysis have a rapid onset of quadriparesis or paraparesis with weakness reaching maximum severity over the course of several days to weeks, depending on the underlying cause (see below) 1

Causes of acute flaccid paralysis include 1:

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