The relationship of age to outcome in myasthenia gravis

Neurology. 1990 May;40(5):786-90. doi: 10.1212/wnl.40.5.786.


This study, a retrospective review of 165 patients with myasthenia gravis, compares the course of the disease for patients with onset before 50 and at or after 50. There were no significant differences between age groups for presenting symptoms, but more of the older patients had progressed to severe disease. More of the younger than the older patients were in remission or were asymptomatic on medication at the last visit. Sixty-two percent of those treated with steroids developed complications, with a larger portion of these being in the older group. Cataracts, infection, and bone changes were particularly significant for the older population. Complications of azathioprine treatment and plasmapheresis were less common. Thymoma was more common in the older population; these patients did no worse than the population as a whole. Sixty-five percent of our patients have undergone thymectomy, most by a modified transsternal approach. A much larger portion of those who underwent thymectomy were in remission at the last visit than those who did not.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Azathioprine / adverse effects
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / diagnosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis / physiopathology*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / therapy
  • Plasmapheresis / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thymectomy
  • Thymoma / surgery
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antibodies
  • Azathioprine