The Italian Journal of Neurological Sciences

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 393–397 | Cite as

The diagnosis of thymoma in myasthenia gravis

  • Aarli J. A. 


Between 10 and 15 per cent of patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) have a thymoma. We have evaluated the possibility of detecting such tumours on the basis of clinical features, radiological findings and immunological tests in a group of 70 MG patients. The mean age at onset of myasthenic symptoms was 67.6 years in the thymoma group and 33.8 years in the non-thymoma group. Otherwise, the clinical picture was similar.

Radiological examination revealed a mediastinal mass in 2 patients. Six of the 70 MG sera contained antibodies to a citric acid (CA) extract of striated muscle. At thymectomy, a thymoma was found in these 6 patients. None of the remaining 64 patients had evidence of a thymoma. Antibodies to AChR were detected in 52 of the 70 MG sera.

There was no relation between titres of AChR and CA antibodies. Three out of 5 sera from non-MG patients with a thymoma contained CA antibodies.

Apparently, this assay is a valuable technique for the identification of a thymoma at an early stage.


Myasthenia gravis thymus thymoma muscle antibodies indirect hemagglutination 


Una percentuale variabile fino al 10 e al 15% dei miastenici è portatrice di timona. Vengono valutate le possibilità di diagnosticare i timomi sulla base dei dati clinici, radiologici e immunologici di un gruppo di 70 pazienti affetti da miastenia. L'età media di inizio dei sintomi miastenici risulta di 67.6 anni nel gruppo con timoma e di 33.8 anni nel gruppo senza timoma, mentre le caratteristiche cliniche sono del tutto sovrapponibili. Gli esami radiologici hanno rilevato una massa mediastinica in due pazienti. In 6 casi nel siero si sono posti in evidenza anticorpi nei confronti di un estratto in acido citrico di muscolo striato (CA) e alla timectomia in tutti questi 6 pazienti è stato riscontrato il timoma.

Anticorpi nei confronti AChR sono stati messi in evidenza in 52 dei 70 sieri.

Non si è vista una correlazione fra i titoli di anticorpi di AChR e di CA. 3 dei 5 sieri ricavati da pazienti non miastenici portatori di timoma contenevano anticorpi CA. Sembra quindi che questa tecnica sia valida per l'identificazione di un timoma allo stadio iniziale.


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Copyright information

© Masson Italia Editori S.p.A. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aarli J. A. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, School of MedicineUniversity of BergenNorway

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