Background: We undertook to analyze the results of video-assisted thoracoscopic thymectomy through a left-sided approach in patients with autoimmune myasthenia.
Methods: Between 1993 and 1997, 31 patients underwent thoracoscopic thymectomy by a uniform left-sided approach. There were 8 men and 23 women with a mean age of 34 +/- 12 years.
Results: Preoperative duration of disease was 14.8 +/- 11 months. There were no operative deaths or major complications. The mean hospital stay was 5.2 +/- 2.8 days. Mean follow-up was 39.6 +/- 15 months and was 100% complete. At 48 months, remission and improvement rates were 36% and 96%, respectively. Shorter duration of symptoms (< 12 months) correlated with improved outcome (13 of 13 patients versus 10 of 14 patients; p = 0.036). Age, sex, Osserman class, corticosteroid therapy, presence of ectopic thymic tissue, and temporary postoperative symptom increase (deterioration) did not affect outcome.
Conclusions: Thoracoscopic thymectomy facilitated the goal of early thymectomy. Through a left-sided approach, improvement or remission was achieved in more than 95% of the patients. Thoracoscopic thymectomy should be considered a valid less invasive alternative to the most radical open approaches.