Is Thymectomy Necessary in Nonmyasthenic Patients with Early Thymoma?

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In thymoma patients without myasthenia gravis, it is debatable whether thymectomy should be performed in addition to thymomectomy, the procedure in which the thymoma alone is resected. In this study, we proposed to compare the surgical results in early-stage nonmyasthenic thymoma patients who underwent thymomectomy with and without extended thymectomy.


A total of 95 patients without clinical evidence of preoperative myasthenia gravis, who underwent surgery for early-stage thymoma (stages I and II), were selected for the study. Thymomectomy with extended thymectomy was performed through median sternotomy on 42 patients, whereas thymomectomy without thymectomy was carried out through video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) or thoracotomy in 53 patients. Outcomes and surgical complications were compared between the two patient groups.


The median duration of the follow-up was 57 months (6–121 months). Three patients, one in the thymomectomy group (1.9%) and two in the thymomectomy with thymectomy group (4.5%), developed tumor recurrences. Tumor recurrence rates between the two groups were not significantly different. During the follow-up period, we did not document the development of postoperative myasthenia gravis in any of the patients enrolled. Postoperative opioid use, the number of days of drainage, and hospitalization length were lower in patients undergoing thymomectomy through thoracotomy or VATS.


In early-stage nonmyasthenic thymoma patients, thymomectomy without thymectomy through thoracotomy or VATS was associated with lower morbidity and shorter hospitalization, than thymomectomy with extended thymectomy. Postoperative myasthenia gravis did not develop in any of the patients enrolled in our study during the 57-month median follow-up period. Overall tumor recurrence rates were not significantly different between these two patient groups. On the basis of our results, we conclude that thymomectomy without thymectomy through thoracotomy or VATS is justified for early-stage nonmyasthenic thymoma patients, and longer follow-up is needed to investigate the necessity of thymectomy in this group.

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