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J Neurol. 2013 Jul;260(7):1798-801. doi: 10.1007/s00415-013-6880-8. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Thymectomy: role in the treatment of myasthenia gravis.

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UCL, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, WC1N3BG, UK.


Thymectomy is a frequently used treatment for myasthenia gravis (MG) and is virtually always indicated in MG patients who have a thymoma. However, the evidence for thymectomy in non-thymomatous MG remains less certain-no randomised controlled trials have been published to date, although one is currently underway. We reviewed the management and clinical outcome of patients with MG who underwent thymectomy over a 12 year period. Eighty-nine patients who underwent transsternal thymectomy were identified. A thymoma was identified on histology in 24 %, whereas 48, 9 and 19 % had hyperplastic, atrophic and normal thymic histology, respectively. One patient developed post operative myasthenic crisis but generally the procedure was well tolerated. Outcome was favourable for the majority of patients, with 34 % achieving complete stable remission (CSR) and an additional 33 % achieving pharmacological remission. Moreover, steroid requirements fell progressively during follow-up. Patients with a hyperplastic gland had a significantly greater chance of achieving CSR compared to other histological subtypes and the incidence of CSR increased with a longer duration of follow-up. Thymectomy for MG is generally safe and well tolerated and is associated with a sustained improvement of symptoms in the majority of patients.

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