Thymectomy A Rational Choice For Some Patients With Myasthenia Gravis Interview with:

Photograph: Douglas Levere

Dr. Gil Wolfe

Gil I. Wolfe, MD, FAAN
Irvin and Rosemary Smith Professor and Chair
Dept. of Neurology/Jacobs Neurological Institute
Univ. at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences/SUNY
Buffalo General Medical Center
Buffalo, NY 14203-1126 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Thymectomy has been used in myasthenia gravis (MG), in particular those patients who do not have a tumor of the thymus gland, known as a thymoma, for over 75 years without randomized data to support its use. A practice parameter in 2000 on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology stated that the benefits of thymectomy in this population of non-thymomatou smyasthenia gravis patients remained uncertain, classified thymectomy as a treatment option in this group, and called for rigorous, randomized studies.

What we found is that compared to an identical prednisone protocol alone, that extended transsternal thymectomy confers significant benefits to non-thymomatous MG patients over a period of three years after the procedure. The benefits include better disease status, reduced prednisone requirements, fewer hospitalizations to manage  myasthenia gravis worsenings, and a lower symptom profile related to side effects from medications used to control the disease state.

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