Transcervical Thymectomy is the Most Cost-Effective Surgical Approach in Myasthenia Gravis.

Affiliation

Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery- Thoracic Surgery 291 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

BACKGROUND : Extended thymectomy is now proven to improve the course of myasthenia gravis. Retrospective studies demonstrate that several techniques for thymectomy achieve overlapping remission rates. We therefore compared perioperative outcomes and costs among 3 approaches to thymectomy: sternotomy; video/robot assisted; transcervical.
METHODS : To ensure similar study groups, we excluded patients with >4cm or invasive tumors and those who underwent less than an extended thymectomy or concurrent procedures. Hospital costs were collected and analyzed by blinded finance personnel.
RESULTS : The final study group consisted of 25 transcervical, 23 video/robotic, and 14 sternotomy subjects. There was a higher incidence of myasthenia gravis in the transcervical and sternotomy groups (p<0.01) and of thymoma in the video/robotic and sternotomy groups (p<0.01). Mean modified Charlson co-morbidity score was higher for sternotomy (2.7±2.1) than transcervical (1.00±.58; p<0.001) and video/robotic (1.13±.97; p=0.001). There was no difference in complication rates between approaches (p=0.83). The cost of transcervical thymectomy was 45% of the cost of sternotomy (p<0.001) and 58% of the cost of video/robotic (p=0.018) approaches; these differences remained highly significant on multivariate analysis. Transcervical thymectomy had shorter mean length of stay (1.2±.5 days) than median sternotomy (4.4±3.5; p<0.001) and video/robot assisted thymectomy (2.6±.96; p=0.045), and "bed cost" was the major contributor to cost difference between the groups.
CONCLUSIONS : Transcervical thymectomy, which provides overlapping myasthenia gravis remission rates vs. more invasive approaches, is equally safe and far less costly than sternotomy and video/robotic approaches.

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