Does repeat thymectomy improve symptoms in patients with refractory myasthenia gravis?
UNLABELLED The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of extended rethymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis. Additionally, an original technique of resternotomy is described. Extended rethymectomy was performed on 21 patients with refractory myastenic symptoms after a previous transsternal thymectomy. In 8 patients the original video-assisted technique of complete longitudinal resternotomy with the aid of a special sternal retractor elevating the sternum from above and below was used. Severe intraoperative haemorrhage from the lacerated left innominate vein occurred in 3/13 patients operated on before the video-assisted technique of resternotomy had been introduced. In none of the 8 patients operated on with video-assisted resternotomy such a complication was noted. PATHOLOGICAL FINDINGS retained thymic lobe (4/21 patients), ectopic foci of thymic tissue (13/21 patients) no thymic tissue (4/21 patients). Results of follow-up: complete remission (11.8%), improvement (64.7%); no improvement (35.3%) during the follow-up period (mean 3.4 years). There was neither deterioration of myasthenia nor mortality during follow-up in this group. We conclude that described technique of video-assisted resternotomy reliably prevents the laceration of the heart and great vessels, and that complete remission and improvement rates in patients operated on with the extended rethymectomy are relatively low but deterioration of myasthenia is prevented.