• What are the side effects of having the thymus gland removed?

    Asked by bigjan1 on Thursday, March 28, 2013

    What are the side effects of having the thymus gland removed?

    What does it actually do? Will I be alright without it?

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      The thymus gland is an organ in the upper chest cavity that processes lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infections in the body. This organ is part of both the lymphatic system, which makes up a major part of the immune system, and the endocrine system, which includes all glands that produce hormones. The thymus is most important in children and young adults, when it programs lymphocytes to attack antigens, like viruses. People who do not have this gland, or in whom it does not function correctly, usually have compromised immune systems and difficulty fighting disease.

      over 5 years ago
    • Becky@UMich's Avatar
      Becky@UMich RN, BS, OCN, Cancer AnswerLine Nurse

      Hi bigjan, the thymus gland is in the front of the chest, behind the breast bone. It is made up of several lobes, and can extend up into the neck with one or more ‘finger-like’ projections. The thymus gland does play a role in the immune system in our early years by changing certain types of white blood cells into disease fighting ‘T-Cells”, but because it’s function declines as we age, an adult does not need a thymus. Having a thymectomy does not put a person at risk for developing autoimmune disease.
      Removal of the thymus (called a thymectomy) is done for several reasons; to remove a tumor (either malignant or benign) or as a treatment for some people that have a disease called myasthenia gravis.

      I'm curious - I notice you have a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Has your doctor told you that your thymus gland is also involved?
      Becky RN OCN

      over 5 years ago
    • robertahed's Avatar

      Are there any side effects of having the Thymus gland removed if you are 71?

      almost 3 years ago
    • Maryiolla's Avatar

      Can removing the thymus gland cause a partial patalysis in the diaphragm ?

      about 1 year ago
    • Blondie1961's Avatar

      1976 I had my thymus gland removed because it was going to grow into my heart and lungs . My oxygen was being cut off causing me to pass out. This is what Doctor explain to me. Now I'm 56 years old and did just fine without it. Only thing I was told can't ever have a MRI because of the type of wire they used back at that time. Tracy Triche

      9 months ago
    • Bekk11's Avatar

      I had a thymectomy 7 years ago because of an intrusive, yet benign tumor that was larger than the palm of my hand. I had just turned 28 at the time (and am now almost 35). I am happy to say that I made a full recovery and have felt no real long-term effects except for a 2x2 inch area of my chest that is usually numb but sometimes (mainly in cold weather) can actually hurt/ache. It was much worse in the 2 years immediately following the surgery and seems to be improving more and more with time (or maybe I'm just getting more used to it lol), as I don't notice it much anymore.
      I also just gave birth to my first child, who was born completely healthy. I experienced no complications throughout the pregnancy, other than severe acid-reflux (which began at 21 weeks) and then being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 36 weeks. My doctors decided to induce labor at 37 weeks 4 days because my blood pressure had spiked to 175/101 and I was full-term at that point. The labor and delivery went very well and my daughter is perfect. She has already received her first vaccinations and has a completely normal immune system; in fact, both myself and her grandmother got pretty sick recently after visiting the doctors office for her 2 month check-up, but she did not get sick at all! :)
      Anyhow, just thought I'd share my experience as it pertained to the topic- I hope it helps!

      6 months ago

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