Long-term follow-up after robotic thymectomy for nonthymomatous myasthenia gravis

Richard K Freeman, Anthony J Ascioti, Jaclyn M Van Woerkom, Amy Vyverberg, Robert J Robison
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2011, 92 (3): 1018-22; discussion 1022-3

BACKGROUND: Thymectomy is recognized as a significant component in the treatment of myasthenia gravis. However, controversy exists as to the optimal surgical approach. This investigation summarizes our experience performing extended thymectomy using a robotic technique in a large group of patients with significant follow-up.

METHODS: Data collection for patients undergoing robotic thymectomy for nonthymomatous myasthenia gravis over a 6-year period was prospectively performed. Patients were assessed using the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America's quantitative disease severity score and the post intervention status classification.

RESULTS: During the study period, 75 patients underwent thymectomy by this method. Mean preoperative myasthenia gravis severity score was 2.7. Mean operative time was 113±46 minutes. Extubation in the operating room occurred in 73 (98%) patients. Mean intensive care stay and total hospital length of stay were 0.9 and 2.2 days respectively. Mean interval between surgery and return to work (or prethymectomy activities of daily living) was 15±6 days. Significant improvement of myasthenia gravis symptoms occurred in 65 (87%) patients with a mean follow-up of 45±14 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Robotic-assisted thymectomy is a safe and effective technique for patients with symptomatic myasthenia gravis. It allowed an extended thymectomy to be performed without the associated length of stay or recovery period of a transsternal approach while producing comparable rates of symptom improvement.

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