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Methodist West Houston Hospital Surgeon Performs Robotic Surgery for Rare Disorder

A 40-year old mother of six traveled to Houston from Lehi, Utah to undergo robotic removal of the thymus gland at Methodist West Houston Hospital, returning home just three days later.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Miguel Gomez performed the thymectomy surgery with a surgical robot, removing Rebecca Vicchrilli’s thymus gland. Vicchrilli has myasthenia gravis (MG), a neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness and pain in the voluntary muscles.  The prevalence of MG in the U.S. is estimated to be 20 out of every 100,000 individuals.

Complete removal of the thymus gland, thymectomy, is an established treatment for moderate to severe MG in patients younger than 60. Thymectomy is believed to improve long-term outcomes for MG patients, with the goal of complete elimination of all symptoms and medication.

“Because of the robotic surgical option, patients are now often referred to a surgeon soon after diagnosis,” Gomez says. ”Robotic surgery offers significant advantages because it is less invasive, results in less blood loss and reduces recovery time.”

The fist-sized thymus gland sits within the protected area of the chest, with finger-like extensions into the neck.   With minimally-invasive robot technology, surgeons can completely remove the gland without cracking the chest.

“I have performed more than 100 of these surgeries and patients’ experiences have been extremely positive,” Gomez says.  “Ms. Vicchrilli is recovering well and will be back to her normal routines in no time.”

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Cardiothoracic surgeon Miguel Gomez, M.D., with Rebecca Vicchrilli the day after her thymectomy surgery was performed.

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