Aggressive Surgical Approach for Drug-free Remission from Myasthenia Gravis

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Abstract

A series of 27 patients with generalized myasthenia gravis is presented. All patients were treated by a sternal split and extended thymectomy and radical mcdiastinal dissection. The overall drug-free remission rate was 63%, although three additional patients are likely to achieve drug-free remission in the near future, with the total drug-free remission rate then being 74%. Of the remaining patients, all but three improved and require decreased medication, for an improvement rate of approximately 90%. One patient who has not improved had an invasive malignant thymoma. Drug-free remission was achieved in 46% of the male patients and in 82% of the female patients despite that the mean duration of disease was greater than 3.5 years. There was one serious complication, that of sterile sternal de- hiscence. There was no mortality. The results suggest that an aggressive, radical surgical approach to myasthenia gravis, even in a group of patients considered somewhat less favorable because of a relatively long duration of disease, can result in a high percentage of drug-free remissions. Radical surgery for myasthenia gravis appears to be the treatment of choice, with medical therapy being reserved for those patients who are not likely to survive operation.

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