Myasthenia Gravis Clinic

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease which causes fatigable weakness of skeletal muscles. Symptoms in MG can occur in varying severity and combination. Symptoms include droopy eyelids; double vision; swallowing and speech difficulty; and weakness of arms and legs. Muscle weakness can get worse over hours or days with repeated use and improved with prolonged rest period. When severe or during flare-ups (myasthenic crisis), MG can affect one’s breathing. In some, symptoms remain restricted to eyes and do not involve other muscles of the body (ocular MG). The exact cause of the disease is not known. In patients with MG, one’s own immune system attacks the neuromuscular junction: the point of communication between the nerve and muscle. Antibodies are produced which block, alter, or destroy the neurotransmitter receptors on muscle. Since the muscles are not able to receive any signal to contract, patients become weak. MG can occur at any age, but more commonly seen in young women (20 – 40 years) and older men (>60 years).

Myasthenia gravis is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical examination and certain tests. Blood tests are performed looking for antibodies which are present in the majority of patients. Electrophysiological tests (Nerve conduction, EMG, single fiber EMG) are also performed to confirm diagnosis. Very rarely genetic tests are performed as some genetic disease can have similar presentation.

Although not curable, with optimized therapy, most people with MG can expect to live a normal or nearly normal life. Early detection is the key and treatment is individualized determined by treating physician. Treatment includes medications (anticholinesterase medications, steroids, or medications that suppress one’s immune response), and surgical removal of thymus gland- thymectomy (to be determined by treating physician). Furthermore, intravenous immunoglobin (IVIG-blood product which decreases attack of antibodies on the nervous system) and plasmapheresis (removal of harmful antibodies from one’s blood) may be required.

Myasthenia Gravis Clinic

The MG Clinic at UI Health is in partnership with Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) to deliver care for patients with MG. The multidisciplinary approach allows providing compassionate and comprehensive care with an opportunity for patients to discuss their medical needs with a neuromuscular neurologist. The clinic team provides highly personalized care for patients and keeps them updated on the latest research and treatment landscape while also helping them in the management of their disease in a supportive, specialized, collaborative environment. When Thymectomy is recommended, patients are referred to our in-house surgical team, who are also able to offer robotic surgery. We are also equipped to offer outpatient infusion treatments (IVIG) when required.

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Our program is composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts working together to provide each patient with the personalized care they need.

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