Myasthenia gravis is a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disorder marked by muscle weakness that generally worsens over time. At Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute, our neuromuscular specialists have more than 20 years of experience treating patients with this condition.
We provide an exceptional level of expertise, and work closely with the Myasthenia Gravis Association of Western Pennsylvania to provide the education and support you need so you can manage this condition and live a full life.
Myasthenia gravis care at AHN: Why choose us?
Patients and families choose AHN for our:
- Neuromuscular expertise: Our neuromuscular specialists are highly regarded nationally for their expertise in this rare condition. We treat hundreds of patients with myasthenia gravis every year, more than any other center in the region.
- Team approach: Many patients with myasthenia gravis experience breathing disorders and sleep apnea at some point. Because we see a large number of patients with this rare condition, our lung specialists have uncommon expertise treating breathing and other pulmonary complications due to myasthenia gravis.
- Novel therapies: At AHN, you can access promising treatments, including new medications, before they are widely available. We were the first health system in western Pennsylvania to offer patients Soliris®, the first major new therapy approved for myasthenia gravis in 30 years.
- Dedicated myasthenia gravis clinic: At this clinic, you’ll meet with a nurse who focuses on caring for patients with myasthenia gravis. We take the time to answer your questions and provide the support you need, ensuring a high level of personalized care.
- Focus on neuroscience research: Our neuromuscular specialists are active in ongoing research studying promising new treatments for myasthenia gravis. We offer you the latest therapies, sometimes before these treatments are widely available.
- Active support group: We offer a monthly support group, where patients with myasthenia gravis meet and gain support from people who have been through similar challenges.
Myasthenia gravis symptoms
People may experience myasthenia gravis symptoms differently. Common symptoms include:
- Weakening eyes and eyelids, resulting in droopy eyelids or double vision
- Problems swallowing
- Fatigue in the neck and jaw
- Speech impairments
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness in the arms, legs, hands, and feet
Diagnosing myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis can be challenging to diagnose. Our physicians have more than two decades of experience recognizing the symptoms, giving us the skills to make a precise diagnosis.
At AHN, you have access to the latest tests. Your physician may order one or more of these tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- Electromyogram (EMG): This test measures the electrical activity of muscles.
- Nerve conduction studies: A nerve conduction velocity test measures the nerves’ ability to send electrical signals. We often perform it along with an EMG to help determine whether symptoms are related to your nerves or muscles.
- Electrodiagnostics: We apply small electrical impulses along your arm, leg, or face to measure the muscle reaction.
Get expert myasthenia gravis treatment at Allegheny Health Network
Often, patients find that a combination of therapies effectively controls their symptoms. We also provide specialized inpatient services for people who require more intensive care, such as assistance walking, speaking, or breathing.
After a thorough physical evaluation and diagnostic tests, we develop a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and concerns. Your treatment plan may include:
- Medication: Your physician will help determine which medications would most benefit you. Some medications relieve your symptoms by reducing the antibodies in your body, while others (called immunosuppressants) aim to slow down the body’s immune system. We offer the most effective therapies available today, at multiple locations across our network.
- Plasmapheresis: This therapy, also called plasma exchange, filters your blood through a machine that removes harmful antibodies (similar to dialysis).
- Immunoglobulin therapy: You receive an injection of high doses of good antibodies from healthy donor blood. These new antibodies help block the antibodies that may be attacking your nervous system.
AHN Myasthenia Gravis Clinic
Allegheny General Hospital – Professional Building
490 East North Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212