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  • 1980
  • 2011-12-15

Robotic thymectomy for autoimmune myasthenia gravis

Epublication WebSurg.com, Dec 2011;11(12). URL:
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We present the case of a 27-year-old woman who has had an autoimmune myasthenia gravis for 6 months. The current treatment essentially includes anticholinesterasics, but no use of corticosteroids. Thymectomy is indicated in the presence of thymic hyperplasia visible on a thorax CT-scan with contrast injection. The use of the da Vinci robot for this type of intervention has been recognized many years ago now with the work of Federico Rea and Jens Ruckert amongst others. The advantage of this technique is the possibility to proceed with a radical thymectomy enlarged to the mediastinal fat exactly in the same way as for a median sternotomy which is the standard technique. When compared with thoracoscopy, the advantage stems from 3D vision, segmentation of the operator’s movements and exceptional maneuverability of the instruments which have 7 degrees of freedom. These instruments allow for an access to the lower cervical area without the use of a cervicotomy. The choice of the left side is explained by the need to identify the phrenic nerve’s position, which is more difficult to predict than the right nerve’s position, which can be easily identified on the right lateral aspect of the superior vena cava. The video is followed by an interview with Professor Marescaux (MD, FACS, Hon FRCS, Hon JSES) and Doctor Santelmo (MD, FETCS) about robotic thymectomy, comparing it with Novellino's procedure and discussing the ways in which this technique pushes robotic surgery forward.