JOURNAL ARTICLE

Surgical and neurologic outcomes after robotic thymectomy in 100 consecutive patients with myasthenia gravis

Giuseppe Marulli, Marco Schiavon, Egle Perissinotto, Antonella Bugana, Francesco Di Chiara, Alessandro Rebusso, Federico Rea
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2013, 145 (3): 730-5; discussion 735-6
23312969

OBJECTIVE: Thymectomy is a well-defined therapeutic option for patients with myasthenia gravis; however, controversies still exist about the surgical approach, indication, and timing for surgery. We reviewed our experience reporting surgical and neurologic results after robotic thymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis.

METHODS: Between 2002 and 2010, 100 patients (74 female and 26 male; median age, 37 years) underwent left-sided robotic thymectomy using the da Vinci robotic system (Intuitive Surgical, Inc, Sunnyvale, Calif). The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America classification was adopted for pre- and postoperative evaluation. Preoperative Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America class was I in 10% of patients, II in 35% of patients, III in 39% of patients, and IV in 16% of patients.

RESULTS: Median operative time was 120 (60-300) minutes. No death or intraoperative complications occurred. Postoperative complications were observed in 6 patients (6%) (bleeding requiring blood transfusions in 3, chylothorax in 1, fever in 1, and myasthenic crisis in 1). Median hospital stay was 3 days (range, 2-14 days). Histologic analysis revealed 76 patients (76%) with hyperplasia, 7 patients (7%) with atrophy, 8 patients (8%) with small thymomas, and 9 patients (9%) with normal thymus; ectopic thymic tissue was found in 26 patients (26%). Clinical follow-up showed a 5-year probability of complete stable remission and overall improvement of 28.5% and 87.5%. Remission was significantly associated with preoperative I to II Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America class (P = .02). A significant improvement rate was found in Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America class I to II (P = .03) and AbAchR+ (P = .04). A high percentage of patients interrupted or reduced their medications.

CONCLUSIONS: Robotic thymectomy is a safe and effective procedure. We observed a neurologic benefit in a great number of patients. A better clinical outcome was obtained in patients with early Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America class.

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