Thymectomy is a procedure used to remove the thymic gland. In selective cases, thymectomy may also help patients suffering from a rare neurologic condition, myasthenia gravis. Conventionally, a total thymectomy is performed via a 20 cm incision by splitting the chest bone in the middle. The thoracoscopic approach to thymectomy was first reported by Dr Sugarbaker from Boston and also the Belgium group in 1993. There are several approaches to perform minimally invasive thymectomy, eg. video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) (unilateral) thymectomy utilizing classically 3-ports; the bilateral thoracoscopic approach combined with a cervical incision (video-assisted thoracoscopic extended thymectomy) and the mini-sternotomy approach.

There are many advantages to minimally invasive thymectomy over a traditional open approach (i.e. full sternotomy): 

  • Less pain
  • Lower complication rate
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Shorter operative time thus less anesthesia
  • Shorter hospital stay and decreased recovery time


The suitability for minimally invasive thymectomy is assessed on an individual basis. Approximately 95% of patients are suitable for a minimally access approach. Professor Tristan Yan will discuss the safest and most appropriate approach with you at the time of your consultation.