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J Cardiothorac Surg. 2013 Dec 10;8:226. doi: 10.1186/1749-8090-8-226.

Efficacy of perioperative high-dose prednisolone therapy during thymectomy in myasthenia gravis patients.

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  • 1Department of General Thoracic Surgery, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.



This study aimed to investigate the benefits of administering perioperative high-dose prednisolone in conjunction with thymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis.


We retrospectively reviewed data from patients with Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America Clinical Class I to IIIB who had undergone an extended thymectomy between 1992 and 2009. Perioperative high-dose prednisolone was administered at starting doses of 10 to 20 mg and escalated up to 100 mg on alternate days. The treatment group comprised 70 patients receiving perioperative high-dose prednisolone, whereas the control group included 61 patients not treated with preoperative steroids. The two groups were compared with respect to baseline clinical characteristics, incidence of postoperative complications, and follow-up disease status.


Prednisolone-treated patients presented with more advanced disease compared to controls (Class IIB or greater, 42 [60.0%] versus 7 [11.3%], respectively; P < 0.001). Mean preoperative%FVC was lower and FEV1.0% was higher in treated patients than in controls (%FVC: 92.4 ± 2.3% versus 99.5 ± 2.4%, respectively; P = 0.037, FEV1.0%: 85.2 ± 1.3% versus 81.4 ± 0.9%, respectively; P = 0.017). The groups were similar in other variables including presence of thymoma, and operative procedure. In the treatment group, disease status was significantly improved only by the induction of high-dose prednisolone before the surgery (P < 0.001), and these patients discontinued anti-cholinesterase therapy more frequently than controls (P < 0.001). Moreover, the treatment group demonstrated markedly lower rates of postoperative crisis (12.2% versus 2.9%, respectively; P = 0.045). The incidence of infection, wound dehiscence, and diabetes mellitus were comparable between groups. Survival analysis demonstrated higher rates of treated patients with improved disease status at three and five years (92% and 96%, respectively) compared to controls (57% and 76%, respectively; P < 0.001). Likewise, significantly greater proportions of treated patients achieved complete stable remission or pharmacologic remission at three, five, and ten years (23%, 42%, and 72%, respectively) compared to controls (10%, 20%, and 44%, respectively; P = 0.002).


Perioperative high-dose prednisolone therapy is a safe, promising strategy for managing patients with myasthenia gravis and may reduce the incidence of postoperative crisis while improving disease status.

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