The short and long-term effects of open vs minimally invasive thymectomy in myasthenia gravis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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OBJECTIVE: Thymectomy has been utilized as a treatment for Myasthenia Gravis (MG) for many decades, with both open and minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques currently used. Although MIS has shown improved short-term results, long-term effects remain uncertain. This systematic review and meta-analysis aim to compare the post-operative and long-term outcomes of MIS versus open thymectomy in MG patients. METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL databases were searched from inception till January 2022 for keywords related to MG and open or MIS thymectomy. Primary outcome was complete stable remission (CSR), and secondary outcomes were clinical improvement, complications, length of stay, operation time, and blood loss. Grading of recommendations, assessment, development, and evaluation was used to assess the certainty of evidence. RESULTS: 26 studies with 3588 patients were included in the analysis. At 1, 3 and 5 years, there was no statistical difference noted in CSR between open versus MIS thymectomy. However, CSR was improved at 1 year for MIS thymectomy in non-thymomatous MG (P = 0.03). There was no significant difference in rates of partial clinical improvement between techniques at 1-year. Although analyses on length of hospital stay and blood loss showed improvement following MIS thymectomy, operative time was shorter for open thymectomy. CONCLUSION: This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis assessing long-term effects of MIS versus open thymectomy in MG patients. Given the lack of significant differences noted, either MIS or open thymectomy can be performed, based on surgeon preference. Further high-level, long-term research should be conducted to determine the benefit of each technique.
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