Thymectomy
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What is Thymectomy?

A thymectomy is surgery to remove the thymus gland. This gland is located in the upper portion of the chest, behind the sternum (breastbone).

Thymus Gland
Thymus Gland
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The thymus gland helps control immune cell growth. It is usually very active when you are an infant, but its function tapers off as you get older. The thymus acts abnormally when a person has myasthenia gravis . This is a disease characterized by weakness of skeletal muscles of the body. This happens because the body's immune system attacks the area where the nerves attach to the muscles. Thymectomy is used to treat myasthenia gravis.

A thymectomy may also be done if the thymus has a tumor.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a thymectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to other organs
  • Nerve injury
  • Respiratory failure

If you are age 60 or older, you are at increased risk of complications.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Cough, difficulty breathing, or chest pain
  • Pain, burning, urgency, or...
 
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