Perioperative Outcomes of Thymectomy in Myasthenia Gravis: A Thoracic Surgery Database Analysis

Ann Thorac Surg. 2022 Mar;113(3):904-910. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2021.06.071. Epub 2021 Jul 30.


Background: There is clinical equipoise regarding the perioperative and long-term outcomes of autoimmune myasthenia gravis (MG) patients undergoing open vs minimally invasive thymectomy, particularly for nonthymomatous MG. This analysis utilizes multicenter, real-world clinical evidence to assess perioperative complications of open and minimally invasive thymectomy techniques in MG patients.

Methods: Thymectomy cases from 2009 to 2019 in MG patients were identified in The Society of Thoracic Surgeons General Thoracic Surgery Database. Thymectomies were grouped by surgical technique: transthoracic (TT), transcervical (TC), video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), or robotic VATS (RVATS). Multivariable logistic regression models assessed the association between surgical technique and perioperative complications.

Results: Analysis of nonthymomatous cases (n = 1725) revealed VATS (odds ratio [OR], 0.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23-0.83), RVATS (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.48-1.26), and TC (OR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.06-0.62) thymectomies had lower odds of perioperative complications than TT thymectomies. VATS (OR, 2.29; 95% CI, 0.63-8.30) and RVATS (OR, 4.08; 95% CI,1.21-3.78) thymectomies had higher odds of perioperative complications than TC thymectomies. Analysis of thymomatous cases (n = 311) found no significant difference in the odds of perioperative complications in TT vs minimally invasive (VATS/RVATS) procedures. The proportion of RVATS procedures increased from 6.43% to 44.27%, while TT (56.43% to 34.35%) and TC (19.29% to 6.87%) thymectomies decreased.

Conclusions: Minimally invasive and TC thymectomies have fewer perioperative complications than TT thymectomies when performed for nonthymomatous MG. Minimally invasive procedures are increasingly performed for both nonthymomatous and thymomatous disease. There is a nationwide shift toward minimally invasive procedures, even for thymoma resections. Long-term neurological outcome data are needed to determine whether a reduced perioperative risk for minimally invasive thymectomies translates to improved MG outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / etiology
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Surgery*
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods
  • Thymectomy / methods
  • Thymus Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome