Institution The thymus gland happens to be a section of the body’s endocrine system. The thymus gland plays a significant role in our early years since it acts as a place where immune cells (T lymphocytes) mature, multiply, as well as specialize (Thibodeau, 2012). Thymus gland grows the most throughout gestation along with neonatal phase and then starts shrinking during puberty as a response to the occurrence of reproductive hormones. As one ages, the thymus cells degenerates are substituted with fat cells.
The latest developments within immunology have assisted scientists and doctors in comprehending the role of the thymus when it comes to lymphocyte maturation; apparently, the T in T-lymphocytes symbolizes thymus. T-cells identify foreign antigens with every T-cell having a distinctive receptor, which aids our body in fighting off infection (Fogiel, 2000). Since the thymus plays a very momentous role in the growth of T-cells, any complications with the thymus gland when a person is very young can result in severe health issues (Rundles, 1993).
For instance, a congenital deficiency in the growth of the thymus gland can influence its capability of producing cells, which assist in the provision of immunity to allergens leading to immunodeficiency. In case the ability of the body in producing T-cell and B-cell lymphocytes gets compromised, an individual might develop SCIDs i. e. severe combined immunodeficiency (Thibodeau, 2012). The thymus gland has the responsibility of preventing autoimmunity (Rundles, 1993). For instance, according to scientists, the majority of the lymphocytes, which are formed by the thymic cortex, devoid of leaving the organ.
Considering that those T-cells, which leave the thymus, have the capability of reacting against alien antigens, it is believed that the thymus damages lymphocytes, which would take part in an autoimmune reaction. Additionally, autoimmune diseases are related to a hyperactive immune system whereby the body’s immune system fails in attaching alien pathogens yet reacts against self. The thymus gland is also responsible in myasthenia Gravis whereby myasthenia Gravis relates to antibodies, which block acetylcholine receptors and is associated with a hyperactive thymus.
In this case, treatment entails the taking away of the thymus. Taking away of thymus, even with young kids, does not appear to affect the capability of the immune system in providing protection. Although newborns appear to be most at risk whenever the thymus has to be taken away or are nonfunctioning, in adults, there are no negative impacts resulting from the taking away of the thymus (Rundles, 1993). The complexity in the removal of the thymus lies in its location since the thymus is located below the breastbone, as well as at the heart level (Fogiel, 2000).
There are distinctive approaches to surgery. The conventional thymectomy entails opening the chest cavity, along with a 5 day hospitalization and 6 weeks of recuperation. Although minimally invasive surgery together with robotic surgery methods is still solemn, the recuperation time is lessened. The surgeon moves round the breastbone, and instead of a big open incision, the patient will have 3 or 4 tiny incisions where the small instruments get inserted. This is followed by hospitalization and careful monitoring of the patient; time is necessary for healing from the surgery.
Once the patient returns home, he or she has to watch the small incisions for symptoms of infection (such as drainage, redness and swelling). Any symptoms such as chest pains, difficulty in breathing, or any other pain that cannot be managed through oral medication must be reported immediately (Thibodeau, 2012). References: Fogiel, M. (2000). Biology. Piscataway, N. J. : Research & Education Association. Rundles, S. (1993). Nutrient modulation of the immune response. New York: Dekker. Thibodeau, G. A. , Patton, K. T. , & Anthony, C. P. (2012). Structure & function of the body (14th ed. ). St. Louis, Mo. : Elsevier/Mosby