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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2016 Sep;50(3):418-22. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezw064. Epub 2016 Mar 16.

Comparative study for surgical management of thymectomy for non-thymomatous myasthenia gravis from the French national database EPITHOR.

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Centre Chirurgical Marie-Lannelongue, Université Paris-Sud, Sce de chirurgie thoracique, vasculaire et de transplantation cardiopulmonaire, Le Plessis-Robinson, France
Nouvel Hopital Civil, Sce de chirurgie thoracique, Strasbourg, France.
CHU Dijon, Sce de chirurgie thoracique, Hôpital Bocage, Dijon, France.
CHU Rouen, Sce de chirurgie générale thoracique, Rouen, France.
CHU Toulouse, Hôpital Larrey, Sce de chirurgie thoracique, Toulouse, France.
Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille, Université de la Méditerranée, Hôpital Nord, Sce de Chirurgie Thoracique et des maladies de l'oesophage, Marseille, France.



Thymectomy may be part of the therapeutic strategy in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) without thymoma. Median sternotomy is still considered as the gold standard, but during the last 15 years, several groups have demonstrated the non-inferiority of cervicotomy with upper sternotomy and minimally invasive techniques. To date, there is no consensus on surgical procedure choice. The aim of our study was to compare the morbidity and mortality of three techniques [cervicotomy with upper sternotomy versus sternotomy versus video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)/robotic-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS)] from the national database EPITHOR and to analyse French epidemiology.


From the national thoracic surgery database EPITHOR, we have extracted all the details regarding thymectomies performed for non-thymomatous MG. We have divided thymectomy into three groups: A-sternotomy; B-cervicotomy with upper sternotomy; C-VATS/RATS. We investigated the postoperative morbidity and mortality without analysis of the long-term evolution of the disease not available on EPITHOR.


From 2005 to 2013, 278 patients were included: 131 (47%) in Group A, 31 (11%) in Group B and 116 (42%) in Group C. The sex ratio F/M was 2.3. The mean age was, respectively, 42 ± 17, 42 ± 16, 35 ± 14 years old (P < 0.01). The number of patients without comorbidities was 63 (48%), 25 (81%) and 78 (65%), respectively (P < 0.01). The operative time was 94 ± 37, 79 ± 42 and 112 ± 59 min, respectively (P < 0.01). The number of patients who presented at least one postoperative complication was 12 (14%), 0 and 3 (9%) (P= 0.03), respectively. The postoperative lengths of stay were 7.7 ± 4.5, 5 ± 1.7 and 4.5 ± 2 days, respectively (P < 0.01). There was no death.


In our study, we were unable to prove the superiority of minimally invasive techniques due to the important differences between the groups. However, this study shows us major changes in French surgical procedures during the last decade with an increase in minimally invasive procedures such as VATS and RATS.


Minimally invasive surgery; Myasthenia gravis; Thymectomy

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