Thoracoscopic thymectomy in children with myasthenia gravis

Am Surg. 2003 Dec;69(12):1087-9.


Although conservative medical management is the mainstay in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (MG), severest forms of the disease often require surgical thymectomy. Thoracoscopic thymectomy (TT) represents a minimally invasive alternative to traditional thymectomy via sternotomy. We present our preliminary experience with TT as definitive treatment for severe forms of MG. The charts of 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy; age range, 11-17 years) who underwent TT for MG were retrospectively reviewed. TT was typically performed via left thoracoscopy using 4- or 5-mm ports with 1 of the ports enlarged at the end of the procedure for specimen retrieval. Thymic veins were identified and ligated with surgical clips in all cases. Surgical parameters assessed were the following: operating time, intra- and postoperative complications, length of postoperative stay, and resolution of symptoms. Follow-up ranged from 6 months to 2 years. All 5 TTs were successfully completed. In 1 case, right-sided thoracoscopy was added to ensure complete gland excision. Surgical pathology in all cases demonstrated complete excision. Mean operating time was 121 minutes (range 88 minutes to 188 minutes). There were no intra- or postoperative complications. Length of postoperative stay averaged 1.6 days (range, 1 to 3 days). Four of 5 (80%) had clear resolution of symptoms with 1 showing minimal resolution at 6 months. Thoracoscopic thymectomy is a safe and potentially attractive alternative to traditional thymectomy via median sternotomy in severe forms of myasthenia gravis. Complete thymectomy, the goal of traditional surgical treatment for myasthenia gravis, can effectively by achieved via this minimally invasive technique.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myasthenia Gravis / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy*
  • Thymectomy / methods*