The thymus gland is located just in front of the heart and great vessels and behind our sternum.
Until the first years of our life it plays an important role in the body’s defense and then it declines, that is, it almost disappears. In some people, a thymus remnant may be seen normally, as characterized on CT scan.
Myasthenia Gravis or myasthenia gravis
“Myasthenia is an autoimmune muscle disease caused by certain antibodies that prevent the smooth transition of the stimulus from our nervous system to the muscles, and as a result, a disturbance in nerve-muscle communication is caused.
This results in easy and rapid fatigue, weakness of the upper and lower limbs, drooping of the eyelid and sometimes difficulty breathing if our respiratory muscles are affected.
It has been established that there is an association of myasthenia with the thymus gland and therefore its surgical removal (thymectomy) is always recommended whether it is combined with thymoma or not. The drug therapy approved by the neurologist continues for some time after the thymectomy,” explains Mr. Konstantinos Konstantinidis, MD, MSc, FEBTS Thoracic Surgeon, Director of the Second Thoracic Surgery Clinic/Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Clinic, Metropolitan General.
Robotic or thoracoscopic thymectomy
The operation is performed under general anesthesia, robotically (Robotic-Assisted Thoracic Surgery/RATS) or thoracoscopically (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery/VATS), through 3 small holes in the chest wall – usually on the right side. In robotic surgery, the Da Vinci Xi system is used, while in thoracoscopic surgery, thoracoscopic surgery tools are used. The most important thing is that with the above techniques sternotomy is avoided, i.e. the surgical incision of the sternum – the bone located in front of the midline of our chest.
In a large percentage of patients with myasthenia gravis, thymectomy can lead to a complete cure or a significant reduction in medication. The results are visible after the first year.
“After robotic or thoracoscopic thymectomy, the average hospital stay is 3 days. In the afternoon of the surgery day, the patient can walk and eat normally. The drainage tube that is always placed after surgery is usually removed 2 days later. The pain is much less compared to open surgery and the hospitalization time is shorter.
A thymectomy is also performed in the presence of tumors of the thymus gland (thymoma, cancer of the thymus gland)”, concludes Mr. Konstantinidis.
Mr. Konstantinos Konstantinidis, MD, MSc, FEBTS Thoracic Surgeon, Director of the 2nd Thoracic Surgery Clinic/Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Clinic, Metropolitan General.
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