Frequency of myasthenic crisis in relation to thymectomy in generalized myasthenia gravis: a 17-year experience

BMC Neurol. 2004 Sep 11;4:12. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-4-12.

Abstract

Background: Myasthenic crisis is the most serious life-threatening event in generalized myasthenia gravis (MG) patients. The objective of this study was to assess the long-term impact of thymectomy on rate and severity of these attacks in Iranian patients.

Methods: We reviewed the clinical records from 272 myasthenic patients diagnosed and treated in our neurology clinic during 1985 to 2002. Fifty-three patients were excluded because of unconfirmed diagnosis, ocular form of MG, contraindication to surgery, concomitant diseases and loss to follow-up. The Osserman classification was used to assess the initial severity of the disease. Frequency and severity of the attacks were compared between two groups with appropriate statistical tests according to the nature of variables. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to assess the predictors of myasthenic crisis in the group of patients without thymoma.

Results: 110 patients were in thymectomy group and the other 109 patients were on medical therapy. These two groups had no significant differences with respect to age at onset, gender, Osserman score in baseline and follow up period. 62 patients (28.3% of all 219 patients) had reported 89 attacks of myasthenic crisis. 20 patients of 62 (32%) were in thymectomy group and 42 (68%) were in the other group. There was significant difference between the two groups in number of patients with crisis (P = 0.001; odds ratio = 2.8 with 95% CI of 1.5 to 5.2). In addition, these attacks were more severe in group of non-thymectomized patients as the duration of ICU admission was longer and they needed more ventilatory support during their attacks. Regression model showed thymectomy and lower age at onset as two predictors of decrement in myasthenic crisis rate in non-thymomatous MG patients.

Conclusions: It is suggested that frequency and severity of myasthenic attacks as important endpoints in evaluation of MG patients. Thymectomy seems to have a preventive role on rate and severity of these attacks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Myasthenia Gravis / complications*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / pathology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / surgery*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Thymectomy / methods
  • Thymectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Thymoma / complications
  • Thymoma / surgery
  • Thymus Neoplasms / complications
  • Thymus Neoplasms / surgery
  • Time*
  • Treatment Outcome