The ideal operative technique for thymectomy in myasthenia gravis remains controversial. Most surgeons perform thymectomy via median sternotomy, some supplementing this with an even more extensive mediastinal and cervical dissection designed to remove all areas of possible ectopic thymic tissue. We and others have advocated a transcervical approach that is less morbid and costly than sternotomy approaches. The transcervical approach allows a complete extracapsular thymic resection, but it does not address all areas of potential ectopic thymic tissue. We have published our experience with 151 extended transcervical thymectomies (TCT). At mean follow-up of 53 months (complete follow-up in 97%), Kaplan-Meier estimates of complete stable remission were 33% and 35% at 3 and 6 years. If one includes patients who became asymptomatic but remained on low dose, single-drug immunosuppression as complete remissions (CRs), then the CR rates were 43% and 45% at 3 and 6 years. Longer term (mean 83 months) follow-up of the earliest 84 patients in the series showed preserved CR rates. On multivariate analysis, only preoperative Osserman Class (group mean 2.3) was significantly associated with improved CR rate. These results were obtained with a major operative complication rate of 0.7% and minor complication rate of 6.6%, and nearly every operation was performed without the need for overnight hospital admission. We believe that these response rates following TCT are sufficiently similar to those following transsternal techniques of thymectomy to allow us to recommend this less morbid and less costly operation as an eminently reasonable choice in the surgical treatment of myasthenia gravis.
View details for DOI 10.1196/annals.1405.006
View details for Web of Science ID 000257139900041
View details for PubMedID 18567885