Many Different Patterns under a Common Flag: Aortic Pathology in HIV-A Review of Case Reports in Literature.


Surgical Science Department La Sapienza University, Roma, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV has prolonged life expectancy of patients but has also increased the incidence of non-AIDS comorbid conditions. Among these, there are cardiovascular diseases, and aortic involvement has been described in patients with HIV in the form of aortitis, aneurysms, or dissections. Our study aims to describe aortic pathology occurring in patients with HIV, focusing on clinical and surgical presentation, management, and outcome, through a review of cases published in literature.
METHODS : MEDLINE ( database was reviewed for "aortitis" OR "aortic aneurysm" OR "aortic dissection" AND HIV. Research was restricted to English language. Only case reports were included. Data on patients' age, sex, traditional risk factors, timing from HIV diagnosis, pharmacological details, coinfection (syphilis, hepatitis C virus [HCV], and hepatitis B virus [HBV]), anatomical localization of lesion, presence of inflammatory involvement, rapid growing or rupture, and surgical treatment and outcomes were collected and summarized in tables.
RESULTS : Forty articles (51 cases) were included in the study. The mean age of patients was 48.8 ± 8.3 years. Male sex was preponderant (43 cases, 84.3%). Among traditional risk factors, hypertension and smoking were the most frequently reported ones (14 and 13 cases, respectively), followed by vasculopathy involving other arterial districts, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and drug addiction. In 3 cases, HIV was diagnosed in the same time as aortic pathology, whereas in most cases, aortic event occurred after five years from HIV diagnosis. In 30.5% of cases for which data on pharmacologic management were available, no treatment or poor adherence was reported. Coinfection occurred in some cases (syphilis in 6, HCV in 5, and HBV in 3). As for anatomical involvement, isolated thoracic lesions were more frequent (24, 47.1%), followed by abdominal and thoracoabdominal lesions. The etiology ranged from bacterial mycotic aneurysms to tertiary syphilis, postsurgical complications, or atherosclerosis. In 3 cases, HIV vasculitis was directly suggested, and in another 2, no other potential etiology had been diagnosed through cultural tests. Open surgical treatment was carried out in 30 cases (58.8%), and in addition, 10 endovascular (19.6%) and 2 hybrid procedures were described. Inflammatory features occurred in 7 cases, and a rapid evolution of lesions in 6. In 9 cases (17.6%), rupture occurred. Mortality was reported in 8 cases (15.7%).
CONCLUSIONS : Aortic pathology may occur in patients with HIV. The entanglement of different patterns of pathological involvement of the aortic wall, secondary to immune dysregulation, infectious process, or atherosclerotic damage that may co-occur in one single case, results in a very challenging management of the condition. Because of the increased life expectancy of patients and immigration from regions with both high HIV and coinfection prevalence, the incidence of aortic pathology could increase in the upcoming years, suggesting the urgent need for further studies to optimize management in these very complex cases.