Treatment strategies for myasthenia gravis.

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2009 May 15

Díaz-Manera J, Rojas-García R, Illa I.

Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Neurology Department, Av. Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain +34 93 556 5986 ; +34 93 556 5602 ;

Advances in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (MG) have reduced mortality rates due to the disease and improved patients' quality of life. Nowadays, attending neurologists can choose among different treatment strategies for MG patients. An exhaustive revision of published data on the efficacy of the different therapeutic options for MG indicates that there are insufficient evidence-based results. However, recommendations based on expert opinion can be provided.

Thymectomy is indicated in all patients with a thymoma or for generalized acetylcholine receptor-seropositive patients aged 18 - 55 years. Steroids are the most widely used immunosuppressive drug for MG. They are recommended as the first-line drug in all patients with generalized MG without response to thymectomy, or in those patients who do not fulfill criteria for the surgery. The selection of second-line drugs may vary between protocols. We recommend to start with azathioprine if insufficient remission is achieved with steroids, followed by ciclosporin, mycophenolate and others. We use rituximab or cyclophosphamide only in severely drug-resistant patients. Finally, we recommend intravenous immunoglobulins or plasma exchange in MG crisis, or for unstable patients before thymectomy or in clinical exacerbations.

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