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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 624-627

Syphilitic aortitis: Rearing of the ugly head


Department of Pathology (Cardiovascular & Thoracic Division), Seth G.S. Medical College & KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Pradeep Vaideeswar
Department of Pathology, Seth G. S. Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai 400 012
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0377-4929.72002

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Context: Syphilitic aortitis has been relegated to the category of rare cardiovascular disease or a "medical curiosity" in the west. The same situation may not exist in developing countries due to the stigmata that continue to remain attached to sexually-transmitted diseases in general. Aims: To study the prevalence of syphilitic aortitis among autopsied non-atherosclerotic aortic diseases encountered in a span of 15 years. Settings and Design: Retrospective, autopsy-based study. Materials and Methods: Among 187 cases of non-atherosclerotic diseases of the aorta, 44 had been diagnosed as syphilitic aortitis on the basis of the pathological features and serology. The demographic details and modes of clinical presentation were retrieved from the health records. Depending on the presence of complicating lesions, the cases were classified as uncomplicated or complicated aortitis. Results: The 44 cases of syphilitic aortitis formed 23.5 % of the non-atherosclerotic aortic diseases. They were predominantly seen in males in the fifth decade, who often presented with valvular regurgitation, aneurysmal disease or myocardial ischemia; 13.6 % of patients were asymptomatic. Blood VDRL results were available in 19 patients; 84.2 % were positive. Concomitant involvement of the ascending, transverse and descending thoracic was seen in 45.5 % of cases. None had uncomplicated aortitis. Complications in the form of aortic regurgitation (72.7 %), coronary ostial stenosis (59 %) and aneurysms (59 %) frequently coexisted. Thirty-five aneurysms were present in 59 %, chiefly involving the aorta. Conclusions: We found syphilitic aortitis to be a common cause of aortitis at autopsy. Diagnosis should be made with the help of characteristic pathological features correlated to the clinical context and appropriate serological tests.


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