Thoracic Group Features a Minimally Invasive Surgical Treatment for Myasthenia Gravis

Surgical thymectomy (removal of the thymus gland) has been scientifically proven to be 95% effective in improvement of the disease.

myasthenia gravis treatment

Patient Testimonial Story

At 23-years-old Ashley Grandell was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. She received a VATS Thymectomy and within two weeks of her VATS procedure, she was swimming in her backyard pool, and within four weeks, she was surfing. Read her incredible story on how she overcame Myasthenia Gravis with the help of the Thoracic Group.

The team approach extends to the operating room, where together, Dr. Caccavale and Dr. Bocage perform all surgical procedures. Specialized anesthesiologists, highly skilled OR nurses, and knowledgeable patient navigators round out the team during the entire course of the surgery: pre-operative preparation, the operation itself, and recovery.

Patients undergoing a VATS thymectomy report to the hospital on the morning of surgery and typically go home the following day. Full recovery at home is usually achieved within two weeks of the procedure.

Why is VATS Thymectomy the Preferred Approach for Myasthenia Gravis?

There are many advantages to VATS thymectomy over a traditional open approach (i.e. sternotomy):

  • Less pain
  • Lower complication rate
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Shorter operative time thus less anesthesia
  • Shorter hospital stay and decreased recovery time

The benefits of a minimally invasive VATS approach over traditional surgery are even more important in MG because of the patient’s already compromised immune state. Post-operative complications and infection are drastically reduced with VATS. Additionally, the VATS approach creates markedly reduced trauma to respiratory muscles and structures (chest wall) when compared with traditional open surgery.

To discuss diagnosis and treatment of Myasthenia Gravis,

contact The Thoracic Group at office at (732) 247-3002 or


VATS Thymectomy – Surgical treatment of Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by fluctuating muscle weakness and fatigability. It is most often caused by circulating antibodies that either block or destroy receptors that facilitate muscular function. These antibodies are thought to be produced in the hyperplastic germinal centers in the thymus gland.

Standard treatment for MG usually begins with medication, typically an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It acts to prolong the life of the neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) and provide temporary symptomatic relief of muscle weakness. Immunosuppressive drugs are often added to the regimen to reduce the autoimmune response. Unfortunately, over time, most drug regimens lose their effectiveness and may cause severe side effects.

The surgical management of MG has a long track record of success, dating back to 1941 at Johns Hopkins and first performed by Dr. Alfred Blalock. The surgical treatment for MG involves the removal of the thymus gland (thymectomy). The thymus gland plays a major role in developing the immune system during infancy and childhood. As an adult, however, there is very little thymic function; the gland actually reduces in size and becomes replaced by fatty tissue. The thymus gland in an adult can be removed with no ill effects. Successful removal of the entire gland has shown to be more than 95% effective in improvement of the disease. Studies show that approximately 80% of patients experience complete resolution of symptoms after surgery with more than half able to come off all medications.

Surgical thymectomy (removal of the thymus gland) has been scientifically proven to be 95% effective in improvement of the disease.

The Thoracic Group Approach to Surgical Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis
The Thoracic Group approaches the surgical treatment of MG with a team effort, from the pre-operative evaluation to the operating room and recovery, to optimize the outcome and our patient’s overall experience. The optimal surgical approach to the removal of the thymus gland is a VATS (Video-assisted Thoracic Surgery) thymectomy. Thoracic Group physicians are world-renowned chest surgeons with superior experience in the specialty of VATS, a minimally invasive approach to surgery of the chest. Using this team approach, Dr. Robert J. Caccavale and Dr. Jean-Philippe Bocage have performed more than 6,000 VATS procedures over the past two decades.

The team approach to surgical treatment of MG starts with the coordination of the multidisciplinary group of physicians that care for patients with this disorder. Thoracic Group surgeons confer with neurologists, pulmonary specialists, and anesthesiologists throughout the process in regard to indication for surgery, risk assessment and management.