Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular disease that leads to varying degrees of skeletal muscle weakness. The most commonly affected muscles are those of the eyes, face, and swallowing. It can result in double vision, drooping eyelids, trouble talking, and trouble walking. MG is an autoimmune disorder which results from antibodies that block or destroy nicotinic acetylcholine receptors at the junction between the nerve and muscle. This prevents nerve impulses from triggering muscle contractions.
Babies of mothers with myasthenia may have symptoms during their first few months of life, known as neonatal myasthenia. Diagnosis can be done by blood tests for specific antibodies, the edrophonium test, or nerve conduction studies.
Myasthenia gravis is generally treated with medications known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as neostigmine and pyridostigmine. Immunosuppressant’s, such as prednisone or azathioprine, may also be used. The surgical removal of the thymus gland may improve the chances of success in certain cases.