Background: A proportion of thymoma-patients without a history of myasthenia gravis (MG) before thymectomy, appears to have positive anti-AChR-antibodies in the serum. These subclinical MG-patients could be under diagnosed because analyzation of anti-AChR-antibodies in thymomas is not always performed in patients who did not experience neurological symptoms. The prevalence and long-term outcomes of subclinical MG are never described in literature yet.Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 398 consecutive patients who underwent a robotic-assisted thoracoscopic surgery at the Maastricht University Medical Center+ (MUMC+) between April 2004 and December 2018. In the MUMC+, a robotic approach is the standard surgical approach in patients with thymic diseases. Inclusion criteria were thymomas, thymectomy performed in the MUMC + with a follow-up of at least one year and age above 18 years old. Exclusion criteria were patients with thymic carcinomas, refused participation, or those who were lost to follow-up.Results: Of the 102 included thymoma-patients, 87 patients (85 %) were tested for anti-AChR-antibodies before thymectomy, of which 57 patients were diagnosed with clinical MG and seven subclinical MG-patients were found. Of the 15 patients who were not tested for anti-AChR-antibodies, four more subclinical MG-patients were discovered in the years after thymectomy. The median follow-up time was 62 months. In total, 11 subclinical MG-patients were found, with a mean age of 54 years and predominantly females (64 %). Ten subclinical MG patients (91 %) developed clinical-MG, within six years after thymectomy. Immunosuppressive drugs were prescribed in five patients. Four patients were diagnosed with a recurrence of the thymoma. No surgical mortality was reported. Two patients died due to a myasthenic crisis.Conclusions: The prevalence of subclinical MG in thymomas was found to be 10.8 %. One in four patients who experienced no neurological symptoms before thymectomy, appeared to have anti-AChR-antibodies and 91 % of these patients developed clinical MG within six years after the thymectomy. Analyzing anti-AChR-antibodies in the serum is recommended in all suspected thymomas before a thymectomy is performed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
JournalLung Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • anti-acetylcholinereceptor-antibodies
  • myasthenia gravis
  • thymectomy
  • thymomas
  • Thymomas
  • Thymectomy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Anti-acetylcholinereceptor-antibodies

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