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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Jul;83(7):1031-2.

How significant is persistent chest pain in a young HIV-positive patient during acute inpatient rehabilitation? a case report.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, Richmond, USA.


Chest pain in a patient with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has a broad differential diagnosis including, but not limited to, coronary artery disease, gastroesophageal reflux, fungal esophagitis, and musculoskeletal pain. However, spontaneous pneumothorax must also be added to the list of possibilities. Spontaneous pneumothorax occurs 450 times more frequently in patients with AIDS versus the general population and is now the leading cause of nontraumatic pneumothorax in the urban population, to include both those with and without AIDS. Because many patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are young and typically devoid of comorbidity, the presentation of this pulmonary complication may be subtle. HIV-positive patients are receiving rehabilitation services more frequently; therefore, the physiatrist must be aware of the potential for spontaneous pneumothorax to be an etiology of chest pain. We present a case exemplifying the need for rehabilitation professionals to maintain a broad-based approach when caring for patients with HIV and AIDS.

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