Objective: The efficacy of video-assisted thoracic surgery for thymectomy with myasthenia gravis has not been examined.
Methods: Thirty-three consecutive patients underwent total thymectomy by video-assisted techniques between 1992 and 1995. There were 13 male and 20 female patients with a mean age of 38.42 +/- 16.88 years (range 9 to 84 years). The procedures were performed by either a right (n = 11) or left (n = 22) thoracoscopic approach and all anterior mediastinal tissue was removed.
Results: There was no perioperative mortality or long-term morbidity. One patient required conversion of the video-assisted technique to a lateral thoracotomy. All patients except one were extubated immediately. The mean hospital stay was 4.12 +/- 6.07 days (range 1 to 37 days) with a median of 3 days. Mean follow-up is 23.39 +/- 11.72 months (range 4 to 47 months). Clinical improvement was seen in 87.9% (29/33): one of two patients (50%) in stage I, 17 of 19 (89.4%) in stage IIA, eight of nine (88.8%) in stage IIB, and three of three (100%) in stage III. Metaanalysis of these results compared with results in nine published series in which other techniques were used showed no difference in clinical improvement after thymectomy between series.
Conclusion: We conclude that video-assisted thymectomy is as effective as the traditional open surgical approaches for performance of thymectomy in the management of patients with myasthenia gravis. In addition, the improved cosmesis of the video-assisted approach ideally will lead to earlier thymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis.