Myasthenia gravis may be associated with various abnormalities of the thymus gland.

The thymus gland lies behind the breastbone and is an important part of the immune system in infancy and early childhood.

The relationship between the thymus gland and myasthenia gravis has led to the medical recommendation that the gland be removed (thymectomy). About 10 percent of myasthenia gravis patients have a tumor of the gland (thymoma) and are treated with surgical removal, or thymectomy, as well.

Since the 1940's, myasthenia gravis has been treated by thymectomy with most patients showing some improvement after 6 months to 1 year following surgery.

The degree of improvement after surgery is not predictable, but can be significant. Myasthenia gravis patients who experience more than minimal symptoms should consider thymectomy for treatment. University of Maryland thoracic surgeons offer four different surgical approaches for thymectomy, including some which are minimally invasive, to best meet our patients' needs.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about these surgical approaches, what to expect after surgery and more.