Thymectomy for Myasthenia Gravis
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Removal of the thymus (thymectomy) can improve symptoms for some myasthenia gravis patients. Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) offers the latest minimally invasive surgical options for thymectomy, including robotic surgery and video-assisted thorascopic (VATS) thymectomy.
Minimally invasive surgical options for myasthenia gravis
Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence offers the most advanced, personalized surgical treatments available for myasthenia gravis. These treatments include the latest minimally invasive thoracic procedures by our highly skilled cardiothoracic team, which is led by nationally renowned thoracic surgeon Richard Chang, MD.
About 80 percent of myasthenia gravis patients have elevated levels of acetylcholine receptor antibodies, which researchers believe are produced by the thymus gland. Surgical removal of the thymus gland has been shown to be particularly effective in controlling symptoms of myasthenia gravis. The procedure is recommended for patients under the age of 60 who have experienced mild to moderate muscle weakness.
Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence offers minimally invasive procedures for removal of the thymus gland, which is located under the breastbone.
The thymus is removed robotically through several small incisions. This surgery is performed with the da Vinci® Xi robotic surgery system, the most advanced surgical tool available for thoracic surgery. Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence is currently the only network in the region using the Xi system.
Robotic thymectomy results in a postoperative stay of just one or two days. In comparison to traditional surgery, robotic thymectomy involves less blood loss, shorter duration of chest tubes and less overall pain. Patients typically resume to their normal life activities within two weeks.
Video-assisted thorascopic (VATS) thymectomy
This procedure also is minimally invasive where a camera is inserted into one of the incisions to guide the physician, who uses surgical tools through another incision in removing the thymus. Again, postoperative stay in reduced compared to traditional surgery, as is blood loss and overall pain.