Myasthenia gravis is occasionally associated with thymoma that needs surgical resection and may progress to severe respiratory failure. We experienced a rare case of myasthenia crisis during antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis C, in whom mediastinal thymoma was discovered and successfully managed with surgical thymectomy and meticulous medical care.
A 47-year-old-male patient complained of sudden diplopia 1 week after stopping 11-week administration of pegylated-interferon and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C. Ophthalmologic examinations revealed ptosis on the right eyelid and restricted right eye movement. Myasthenia gravis was confirmed by positive repetitive nerve stimulation test and positive serum antiacetylcholine receptor antibody test, and mediastinal thymoma was found on chest CT scan. The ocular myasthenia gravis progressed to respiratory failure even after discontinuing antiviral treatment but eventually recovered with thymectomy, anticholinesterase administration, steroid pulse therapy, and prolonged ventilator care. We describe the clinical features of this life-threatening complication of interferon treatment along with previous myasthenia crisis cases by interferon for chronic hepatitis C.
In patients with chronic hepatitis C who is going to receive interferon-based antiviral treatment, physicians need to keep in mind the potential life-threatening manifestations of myasthenia gravis before and during antiviral treatment especially when patients complain of muscular weakness and easy fatigability.