The thymus is a specialized organ of the immune system located at the front of the chest in a compartment called the anterior mediastinum. Usually, the thymus reduces in size after teenage years and is often replaced by fatty tissue in older age. Tumours of the thymus include thymomas, which can grow and invade surrounding structures. Other types of tumours that can be located in the anterior mediastinum include lymphomas, germ cell tumours, and metastatic malignant lymph nodes from other organs such as the breast, colon, or lung. Patients with anterior mediastinal lesions can present with symptoms of pain, discomfort, coughing, or nothing at all. Preoperative workup should involve a surgeon experienced in the management of these lesions.
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease that can cause weakness of the muscles. Selected patients with myasthenia gravis have been shown to achieve superior clinical outcomes after a thymectomy when compared to patients who were treated with medications alone.1
Associate Professor Christopher Cao offers both robotic and open operations for patients with anterior mediastinal lesions and for patients with myasthenia gravis.2 Robotic operations are an advanced type of minimally invasive surgery that can offer a shorter period of hospitalization and reduced pain by avoiding a cut through the breastplate, or sternum.