Thymectomy in Myasthenic Patients With Thymoma: Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Dec;112(6):1782-1789. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.12.010. Epub 2021 Aug 7.


Background: Thymoma and myasthenia gravis share several pathogenetic aspects including the role of surgery as a therapeutic option. Extended thymectomy is associated with excellent survival and good local control, especially in early stages, and its role for the neurologic disease has been recently validated. The aim of this study is evaluating oncologic and neurologic outcomes of myasthenic patients with thymoma who underwent extended thymectomy.

Methods: We retrospectively collected surgical, oncologic, and neurologic data of all myasthenic patients with thymoma who underwent extended thymectomy at our department from January 1994 to December 2016. Clinical and pathologic data, neurologic remission rate, and overall survival and disease-free interval were analyzed.

Results: In all, 219 patients underwent extended thymectomy. The B2 histotype was the most represented thymoma (24.2%), and the most prevalent pathologic Masaoka stage was IIB (37.9%). The overall survival and disease-free survival were statistically different between early stage and advanced stage. During the surveillance, 33 patients (15.1%) had recurrences, treated in 21 cases with iterative surgery. Regarding neurologic outcomes, 75 patients (34.2%) reached a complete stable remission, 84 (38.4%) a pharmacologic remission, 51 (23.3%) had an improvement of their symptoms, and in 9 patients (4.1%) myasthenia was unchanged or worsened.

Conclusions: Surgery is a cornerstone in the treatment of patients with both thymoma and myasthenia gravis. Extended thymectomy, as proposed by Masaoka, offers considerable oncologic outcomes with an excellent survival and low recurrence rate of thymoma; moreover, surgery leads to remarkable neurologic results.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / complications*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thymectomy / methods*
  • Thymoma / complications
  • Thymoma / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult