The disease threatens approximately 700,000 people worldwide each year, but with effective treatment, symptoms can be managed and patients can lead largely normal lives
In another milestone achievement for Abu Dhabi’s healthcare industry, a hospital has provided a new treatment for patients with myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular autoimmune disease.
Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) is delivering a new treatment for this disease, which affects 700,000 people worldwide each year. With effective treatment, symptoms can be controlled and patients can lead largely normal lives.
A multidisciplinary team of doctors treated a woman who had been diagnosed with the disease six months prior to treatment. The 40-year-old woman was the first patient in the Mena region to receive medication for myasthenia gravis. In addition, the hospital’s neurology department is currently caring for Noura Al-Jarad, a 33-year-old female patient with the same autoimmune disease.
What is myasthenia gravis?
The disorder, characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of voluntarily controlled muscles such as the biceps, abs, and hamstrings, is caused by disruption of normal communication between nerves and muscles. In addition to breathing, these muscles typically control functions involving movement of the arms and legs, which can affect everyday functions such as eating and speaking.
Although there is no known cure for myasthenia gravis, the condition can be effectively controlled with medication and thymectomy, which involves removing the thymus gland, which is located in the chest. Other possible sites of abnormal gland growth may also require extensive procedures.
Through a collaborative approach led by medical experts, Dr. Ahmed Shatila, Consultant Neurology and Head of the Hospital’s Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, conducted an initial in-depth study of the two patients’ cases to find the most The latest treatments for them. He prescribes them new FDA-approved drugs that have been shown to dramatically improve the quality of life for patients with myasthenia gravis.
Pictured: Dr. Ahmed Shatila
The treatment plan for the first patient included a minimally invasive surgery to first remove the thymus caused by the tumor, followed by a continuation of the new drug for 4 weeks after surgery. Meanwhile, Noura is currently undergoing treatment and will soon have her thymus removed.
“By gaining access to the latest scientific advances and invaluable exchanges between our experienced medical teams, we have designed the optimal treatment for both patients. As part of a dedicated treatment approach for SSMC, our multidisciplinary team will work closely to monitor their drug treatment plan and ultimately help them live a better life,” Dr. Shatila said.
Unlike open surgery, this patient’s thymectomy was performed using the keyhole technique, which resulted in less postoperative pain in addition to faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, and quick return to daily activities.
Noura was relieved and thanked for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
“After giving birth last year, I was experiencing droopy eyelids and shortness of breath. I continued to consult with several doctors who put me on ineffective treatments, which resulted in multiple complications such as osteoporosis, significant weight gain and difficulty walking.
After a whole year of constant pain, I am forever grateful to Dr. Shatila who went out of his way to ensure the most suitable treatment for me here in Abu Dhabi. Just one day after starting my treatment program, I was able to stand on my own and go to the bathroom on my own, which amazed me because I wasn’t able to do so before. “
Pictured: Dr. Matthew Gettman
SSMC is a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and the Mayo Clinic. SSMC Chief Medical Officer Dr Matthew Gettman added: “Having a highly specialized complex and critical care hospital in the heart of the Mena region allows patients with rare diseases to receive quality care closer to home. We take great pride in the true leadership shown by our medical team and in their relentless pursuit to put patients’ needs first.