Background: Data are limited on the safety and efficacy of robotic thymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) older than 60 years at onset.
Methods: Patients older than 60 years at MG onset who underwent robotic thymectomy in Charite Universitaetsmedizin Berlin between 2003 and 2017 were potentially eligible for inclusion. The main outcomes were perioperative complications and clinical outcome according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America Post-Intervention Status.
Results: Sixty-eight (25 women, 43 men) of 580 patients with MG who underwent robotic thymectomy were eligible for perioperative analyses (median age at MG onset 67 years, range: 61 to 85 years). The perioperative morbidity rate was 13.2%, and the only perioperative death was due to aortic dissection. Fifty-one patients were available for further analysis with a median follow-up time of 60 months (range: 12 to 263 months). The complete stable remission rate was 7.8%, the improvement rate was 68.6%, and the overall mortality rate was 11.8%. Compared with preoperative use, the mean daily dose of corticosteroid agents was significantly reduced at the last follow-up (17.6 ± 23.6 mg versus 2.6 ± 6.1 mg, p = 0.0001) without increased use of azathioprine (35.9 ± 61.9 mg versus 42.7 ± 59 mg, p = 0.427). After excluding 2 patients seronegative for the anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody, 10 of 49 seropositive patients achieved “good outcome” (including four complete stable remissions, three pharmacologic remissions, and three minimal manifestations 0) which was predicted by being free of concomitant disease (odds ratio 7.307, 95% confidence interval: 1.188 to 44.937, p = 0.032) and Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America classification I before thymectomy (odds ratio 6.696, 95% confidence interval: 1.259 to 35.620, p = 0.026).
Conclusions: Robotic thymectomy seems to be safe and effective in patients with MG older than 60 years at onset with a statistically significant steroid-sparing effect.