Thoracoscopic thymectomy with the da Vinci robotic system for myasthenia gravis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008:1132:329-35. doi: 10.1196/annals.1405.013.


Complete thymectomy (Thx) is a crucial part of treatment for myasthenia gravis (MG) and thymoma. The discussion about the necessity of radical, complete Thx and reduced invasiveness has led to no less than 14 different surgical approaches for Thx. The latest development is robotic-assisted surgery. Though its impact on minimally invasive surgery is not yet clear, it seems to be most promising for surgery in remote, narrow anatomical regions like the mediastinum. One hundred six consecutive robotic-assisted thymectomies (rThx) with the da Vinci robotic surgical system were performed between January 2003 and April 2007 in a prospective single-center study. Postoperative morbidity was recorded according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) classification. With zero mortality, the overall postoperative morbidity rate was 2%. The cumulative complete stable remission rate of MG was > 40% for all patients, and there was no statistical difference as compared to non-thymomatous MG patients. The cumulative rate of minimal manifestations (MM0-MM3) according to the MGFA classification showed a postoperative improvement in quality of life for most of the patients. The da Vinci robotic system allowed for technical refinements of the well-defined operation technique of thoracoscopic Thx (tThx). From the technical point of view, rThx has advantages for mediastinal dissection. rThx had a shorter learning curve. There might be better outcome results for rThx in MG patients, as compared with nonrobotic tThx. Therefore, rThx is a promising technique for minimally invasive Thx.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / classification
  • Myasthenia Gravis / pathology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / surgery*
  • Thoracoscopy / methods*
  • Thymectomy*