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Lambert-Eaton syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Myasthenic syndrome; Eaton-Lambert syndrome; Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome; LEMS


    The main goals of treatment are to:

    • Identify and treat any underlying disorders, such as lung cancer
    • Give treatment to help with the weakness

    A treatment called plasma exchange usually improves symptoms. Plasma exchange involves removing blood plasma from the body and replacing it with donated plasma. This helps to make sure that any harmful proteins (antibodies) that are interfering with nerve function are removed from the body.

    Plasmapheresis may also be effective. During this treatment, the blood is removed from the body. The plasma is separated, the antibodies are removed, and the plasma is returned to the body.

    Medications that suppress the immune response, such as prednisone, may improve symptoms in some cases. Medications may also include:

    • Anticholinesterase medications such as neostigmine or pyridostigmine (although these are not very effective when given alone)
    • 3, 4-diaminopyridine, which increase the release of acetylcholine from nerve cells

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The symptoms of Lambert-Eaton syndrome may improve by treating the underlying disease, suppressing the immune system, or removing the antibodies. However, not everyone responds well to treatment.

    • Difficulty breathing, including respiratory failure
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Infections, such as pneumonia
    • Injuries from falls and problems with coordination

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if symptoms of this condition develop.