A neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis disrupts the signals nerves send to muscles. Without good communication between the two, muscle weakness and fatigue results. An autoimmune disorder, this condition can weaken any muscle in the body but most people feel its effects in the muscles of the face, neck, and arms and legs. People of all ages can develop myasthenia gravis, but women under 40 and men older than 60 are at most risk.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis
Myasthenia gravis most often attacks the muscles of the eye, with drooping eyelids a common symptom. Muscle weakness of the face and/or throat muscles can lead to difficulties speaking, swallowing and chewing. Vision and breathing problems may develop. Sometimes the arms and legs are affected, causing fatigue and mobility problems.
Any of these symptoms warrant a prompt visit to your primary care physician for a comprehensive physical examination and diagnosis. You may be referred to a subspecialist for further consultation. Neurologists commonly manage the care of patients with myasthenia gravis.
Surgical Treatment Options for Myasthenia Gravis
An abnormally large thymus gland or benign tumors of the thymus (thymomas) may work to trigger and/or worsen the symptoms of myasthenia gravis. Removal of the thymus can help lessen the severity of the disease. NorthShore’s experienced thoracic surgeons routinely take a minimally invasive approach for surgically treating this condition. In most cases, advanced robotic surgery techniques available at NorthShore are used to cut out (resect) the thymus.
For More Information
To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.