J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 65:492-496 doi:10.1136/jnnp.65.4.492
  • Paper

Myasthenia gravis: a population based epidemiological study in Cambridgeshire, England

  1. N P Robertson,
  2. J Deans,
  3. D A S Compston
  1. University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  1. Dr Neil Robertson, University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK. Telephone 0044 1223 216751; fax 0044 1223 336941.
  • Received 24 October 1997
  • Revised 1 April 1998
  • Accepted 6 April 1998


OBJECTIVES To perform a comprehensive survey of myasthenia gravis in the county of Cambridgeshire, England, establishing contemporary epidemiological data.

METHODS Cases were ascertained from multiple sources. Prevalent patients were visited and assessed by means of a standardised questionnaire and examination complemented by review of medical case notes.

RESULTS One hundred cases were identified in a population of 684 000 (prevalence 15 per 100 000 population, 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) 12–18). Thirty eight new diagnoses were made over a five year period providing an incidence of 1.1/100 000 population/year. The sex ratio was 2:1 F:M. After a mean follow up of 11.7 years, symptomatic disease was still restricted to ocular muscles in 25 patients. Thirty four of 100 patients underwent thymectomy a mean of 0.8 years after presentation, and a thymoma was present in 12. Highest remission rates were seen in patients presenting with generalised disease who underwent thymectomy but did not have a thymoma (27%). Cosegregation of an additional autoimmune disease occurred in 27 patients and in 24/49 (49%) women with onset<50 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS This, the second highest reported prevalence for myasthenia, is likely to be the result of optimum case ascertainment, increased disease duration, application of complex diagnostic tests, and the impact of an aging population leading to a relative increase in the prevalence of ocular myasthenia.


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