Myasthenia Gravis

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Myasthenia gravis is treated by a multidisciplinary team at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin. Myasthenia gravis is a chronic condition that causes waxing and waning muscle fatigue and weakness.
Myasthenia Gravis Symptoms
Myasthenia gravis is characterized by periods of muscle weakness, which tend to increase during movement and decrease upon resting. Muscles affected often include those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, talking, chewing and swallowing.
Symptoms may include:
  • Swallowing difficulty, frequent gagging or choking
  • Paralysis 
  • Muscles that function best after rest 
  • Drooping head 
  • Difficulty climbing stairs 
  • Difficulty lifting objects 
  • Need to use hands to rise from sitting positions 
  • Difficulty talking 
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Double vision 
  • Difficulty maintaining steady gaze 
  • Eyelid drooping
Myasthenia gravis is considered a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder, mediated by autoantibodies in the body that attack the acetylcholine (Ach) receptors needed for muscle contraction. Reduction in antibody levels leads to improvement in symptoms.
It is thought that patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) produce antibodies in the thymus, a gland located behind the sternum and extending towards the bottom of the neck.
Typically, the thymus gland begins to grow at birth and continues until puberty. After that, it shrinks in size. But in the instance of MG, 75% of patients have abnormal or retained thymic tissue, believed to, in part, be responsible for destruction of ACh receptors.
thymus gland
Our Multidisciplinary Myasthenia Gravis Team
At the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, a multidisciplinary team of physicians will participate in the care and treatment of patients with myasthenia gravis, including neurologists and a thoracic surgeon.
Our doctors and other medical staff work together at all stages of your care. Our helpful staff will provide you and your family with answers to any questions you may have.
A neurologist is usually the physician to diagnosis and determine the most appropriate treatment for myasthenia. There are some prescription medications used to treat the symptoms of MG, but thymectomy, surgical resection of the thymus, is often performed if the neurologist believes it is indicated.
At UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, removal of the thymus gland for myasthenia gravis patients is now done robotically, using a minimally invasive technique known as thoracoscopic thymectomy.
Myasthenia Gravis Treatments
At UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, removal of the thymus glad for myasthenia gravis patients is done using different approaches. Depending upon the circumstances, you may have an open surgical thymectomy, a minimally invasive thymectomy or another "robotic" procedure using a state-of-the-art surgical system designed to help your surgeon see vital anatomical structures more clearly: