Myasthenia gravis is a disease that causes muscle weakness in voluntary muscles you can control – unlike involuntary muscles you can’t control, like your heart. It can affect any muscles, but it involves your eyes, face, throat, neck, arms, and legs most commonly. It’s caused by a communication problem between your muscles and nerves.
Symptoms of myasthenia gravis include:
- Changes in speech, such as your voice sounding very soft or nasal
- Changes in facial expressions
- Difficulty eating, swallowing, and speaking
- Double vision (diplopia)
- Drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis)
- Frequent choking while eating or drinking
- Weakness in your neck, arm, hand, and leg muscles
Muscle weakness gets worse as you use the muscle and gets better with rest. Although symptoms come and go at first, they get worse over time — usually reaching their worst within a few years. In some instances, myasthenia gravis can affect breathing, which requires immediate attention.
Neurological exam - We do a thorough physical exam and gather a complete health history. We check your muscle tone and strength, eye movements, sense of touch, coordination, and balance.
Edrophonium test - This test uses a shot of medicine (edrophonium chloride) that can immediately, but temporarily, relieve muscle weakness in people with myasthenia gravis.
Blood test - This test checks for antibodies that disrupt communication between nerves and muscles.
Electromyography (EMG) - This muscle-function test measures the electrical activity between your brain and muscles. Your doctor inserts a tiny wire electrode through your skin and into a muscle to test for electrical impulses. The muscles of those with myasthenia gravis and other neuromuscular disorders don’t respond normally to electrical stimulation.
Imaging - Your doctor may order computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see if you have a tumor or other abnormality in your thymus gland, which can cause myasthenia gravis symptoms.
Lung function tests - These tests measure how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly air moves in and out of them. They can tell your doctor if your breathing is affected.
Cholinesterase Inhibitors - These medications can help improve communication between your nerves and muscles, which may improve muscle strength.
Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants - These medications stop your body from producing abnormal antibodies that affect muscle strength..
Intravenous therapies - These therapies either add or remove antibodies from your body through a vein in your arm. Plasmapheresis filters your blood through a machine, similar to dialysis, to remove abnormal antibodies from your blood before putting it back in. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) adds antibodies to your blood to make your immune system function normally.
Surgery - Removing your thymus gland (thymectomy) can improve symptoms and even cure some people. A thymectomy can relieve symptoms in those with or without a thymus tumor. We use the least invasive approach – including robotic-assisted surgery, which uses small incisions – to help you recover more quickly.
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A comprehensive team. We offer a team of specialists – including eye specialists, neurologists, surgeons, and other experts – to ensure you get complete care. You get individual attention and treatment that offers you the best possible results.
Advanced surgical expertise. As an academic medical center, we offer the latest, proven approaches backed by the leading-edge research of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Our surgeons are known internationally for outstanding surgical care. Doctors worldwide come to UHealth to learn advanced, minimally invasive and robotic surgeries.
Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye. When you choose us for your eye care, you will receive the best care in the nation in a compassionate setting.
Support for you and your family. A challenging medical condition requires patience and support from your health care team – we offer both. We connect you to the services and support you need, with kindness and compassion.