Surgery useful for treating myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease. Patients with this illness live with muscle weakness as well as fatigue. Affecting between 36,000 and 60,000 U.S. citizens, the disorder hinders patients’ eyelid and eye movements, chewing, facial expressions, breathing, talking, swallowing, limb mobility and neck movements.
Without their thymus glands, patients experienced reduced weakness. They also didn’t need as many immunosuppressive drugs.
“Our results support the idea that thymectomy is a valid treatment option for a major form of myasthenia gravis,” Dr. Gil Wolfe, professor at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and leader of the study, said.
The study was randomized and controlled, involving 126 patients between the ages of 18 and 65 years old. From 2006 through 2012, scientists compared the results of using surgery combined with immunosuppression versus only using immunosuppression.
“This is a study that the myasthenia gravis community has needed for a long time,” Dr. Robin Conwit, program director at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), said. “We hope it becomes a model for rigorously testing other treatment options.”
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