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Is thymectomy in non-thymomatous myasthenia gravis of any benefit?



Is thymectomy in non-thymomatous myasthenia gravis of any benefit?



Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 18(3): 381-389



A best evidence topic in thoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was if thymectomy in non-thymomatous myasthenia gravis was of any benefit? Overall, 137 papers were found using the reported search, of which 16 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. The outcome variables were similar in all of the papers, including complete stable remission (CSR), pharmacological remission, age at presentation, gender, duration of symptoms, preoperative classification (Oosterhius, Osserman or myasthenia gravis Foundation of America (MGFA)), thymic pathology, preoperative medications (steroids, immunosuppressants), mortality and morbidity. We conclude that evidence-based reviews have shown that relative rates of thymectomy patients compared with non-thymectomy patients attaining outcome indicate that the former group of patients is more likely to achieve medication-free remission, become asymptomatic and clinically improve (54%, P < 0.01), particularly patients with severe and generalized symptoms (P = 0.007). Patients with generalized myasthenia gravis showed 11% stronger association with favourable outcomes after thymectomy. Some studies show early remission rates (RRs), as early as 6 months post-thymectomy, of 44%. Overall, the reported remission rate for non-thymomatous myasthenia gravis is between 38 and 72% up to 10 years of follow-up. Among these patients, those with thymic hyperplasia show the best complete stable remission rates (42%, P < 0.04) in the majority of studies. Age showed variability across the studies and the cut-off was also different among them. Overall age < 45 years showed a higher probability of achieving complete stable remission during follow-up (81% benefit rate (BR), P < 0.02). Pharmacological improvement is reported between 6 and 42%. However, the certainty of these benefits has not been established due to factors such as the confounding differences between myasthenia gravis patients receiving and not receiving thymectomy, the non-randomized nature of class II studies and the lack of Class I evidence to support its use. There is currently a randomized trial ongoing looking at thymectomy by sternotomy vs controls and the results are eagerly awaited.

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Accession: 054004471

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24351507

DOI: 10.1093/icvts/ivt510



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