Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is the most common disease of the neuromuscular junction (synapse). At the synapse, your motor nerve cells connect with your muscle fibers, triggering the release of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine activates your muscle fibers, causing movement. Other, less common diseases of the synapse include:

  • Botulism
  • Congenital myasthenias
  • Lambert-Eaton syndrome

Lambert-Eaton syndrome and myasthenia gravis are autoimmune disorders. This means they are caused by your body’s antibodies (immune system) attacking your own cells and tissues rather than attacking “invading” organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. Congenital myasthenias are myasthenias present at birth.

We can help

The Mount Sinai Health System has been involved in treatment of and research on myasthenia gravis since the founding of its first MG clinic in the 1950s. Mount Sinai has introduced many therapies for patients with myasthenia gravis over the years, such as the surgical removal of the thymus (thymectomy) as well as minimally invasive thymectomy.

Mount Sinai offers the following treatments for myasthenia gravis:

  • Thymectomy. Myasthenia gravis is a disease caused by your antibodies attacking your own tissue, rather than attacking foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. Your thymus gland plays a vital role in the development of these antibodies. Removing a malfunctioning thymus gland prevents the incorrect programming of your antibodies. Thymectomy may also be required if a tumor is detected inside your thymus gland.
  • Plasmapheresis. Another way to remove the damaging antibodies is through plasmapheresis, a treatment similar to dialysis in that your blood is cleansed of toxins — in this case, your body’s harmful antibodies. It is administered on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment. Through immunoglobulin infusions, you receive properly functioning antibodies to counteract the effect of those that are harmful.
  • Oral medications. Some patients find relief through oral medications. Steroids and other oral medications help modulate your immune system, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors improve transmission through the neuromuscular junction.

Mount Sinai surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses are highly experienced in treating and caring for patients with myasthenia gravis or other diseases of the synapse.

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