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Analysis Of Thymectomy For Myasthenia Gravis In Older Patients: A 20-year Single Institution Experience.

P. Abt, H. Patel, A. Marsh, S. Schwartz
Published 2001 · Medicine

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BACKGROUND Thymectomy has become recognized as an integral element in the care of the patient with myasthenia gravis. Although the number of elderly patients with myasthenia is substantial, little data exist demonstrating the efficacy and morbidity of thymectomy in this population. STUDY DESIGN We retrospectively analyzed 126 cervicomediastinal thymectomies performed at a single university hospital from 1980 to 1998. Patients 55 years or older were compared with those less than 55. Efficacy was measured by determining the change in Osserman score, the rate of remission during followup, and the reduction in medication requirements after thymectomy. RESULTS Older patients (n = 28) had similar Osserman scores (p = 0.8) and similar rates of complete and partial remission as the younger group (n = 98) at a mean +/- SEM followup of 58 +/- 5 months. The two groups did not differ in the number (p = 0.4) and doses of medications used to control myasthenic symptoms after operation. Older age was associated with an increased length of hospitalization (13.8 +/- 3.2 days versus 9.7 +/- 0.6 days, p = 0.05) and a higher incidence of reintubation, and longer ventilatory support (2.6 +/- 1.3 days versus 0.1 +/- 0.1 days, p = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS Increased age does not alter the outcomes of thymectomy for myasthenia gravis. Older patients can expect to have similar responses and require a similar number of postoperative medications as younger patients, but with a higher short-term morbidity.
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