(Removal of the Thymus Gland)
A thymectomy is surgery to remove the thymus gland. This gland is under the breastbone. It helps the immune system develop during childhood.
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Reasons for Procedure
This surgery is done to treat:
- Myasthenia gravis—a health issue that causes the thymus to act abnormally
- Thyoma—a tumor in the thymus
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
- Excess bleeding
- Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
- Damage to nearby structures
- Respiratory failure
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Problems To Look Out For
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
- Pain that you cannot control with medicine
- Lasting nausea or vomiting
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
- Berrih-Aknin, S. and Le Panse, R. Thymectomy in myasthenia gravis: when, why, and how? The Lancet, 2019; 18(3): 225-226.
- General information about thymoma and thymic cancers. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/thymoma/patient/thymoma-treatment-pdq.
- Myasthenia gravis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/myasthenia-gravis.
- Myasthenia gravis fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/myasthenia_gravis/detail_myasthenia_gravis.htm#84053153.
- Marcin Chwistek, MD
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