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Surg Endosc. 2012 Jan;26(1):261-6. doi: 10.1007/s00464-011-1879-7. Epub 2011 Sep 5.

Robot-assisted thymectomy is superior to transsternal thymectomy.

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 200 Lothrop St., PUH C-800, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



Complete thymectomy is the procedure of choice in the treatment of thymomas and in treating selected patients with myasthenia gravis. Transsternal thymectomy is the gold standard for most patients. Robot-assisted thymectomy has emerged as an alternative to open transsternal surgery. The goal of this study was to compare perioperative outcomes in patients who underwent transsternal or robot-assisted thymectomy.


We performed a retrospective review of all patients who underwent robot-assisted or transsternal thymectomy at our institution from February 2001 to February 2010. Data are presented as mean ± SD. Significance was set as P < 0.05.


Fifty patients underwent either transsternal (n = 35) or robot-assisted (n = 15) thymectomy. Patient demographics and the incidence of myasthenia gravis were similar between groups. There were no intraoperative complications or conversions to open surgery in the robot-assisted group. Intraoperative blood loss was significantly higher in the transsternal group (151.43 vs. 41.67 ml, P = 0.01). There were 20 postoperative complications and 1 postoperative death in the transsternal group and 1 postoperative complication in the robot-assisted group (P = 0.001). Hospital length of stay was 4 days (range 2-27 days) in the transsternal group and 1 day (range 1-7 days) in the robot-assisted group (P = 0.002).


Robot-assisted thymectomy is superior to transsternal thymectomy, reducing intraoperative blood loss, postoperative complications, and hospital length of stay. Further investigation of the long-term oncologic results in thymoma patients and long-term remission rates in patients with myasthenia gravis who underwent robot-assisted thymectomy is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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