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Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 Nov;86(5):1518-23. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2008.07.039.

Incidence, etiology, histologic findings, and course of thoracic inflammatory aortopathies.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



The aims of this study were to detect the incidence of thoracic histologically proven aortitis in a large series of 788 patients operated on for thoracic aortic disease, to describe the surgical and histologic features of inflammatory thoracic aortopathies, and to evaluate the frequency of postsurgical complications and mortality.


Thirty-nine patients (4.9%) were affected by aortitis (mean age, 72.6 +/- 9.6). There were 24 women (61.5%). Thirty-four (87.2%) were operated on because of aneurysms and 5 because of dissection. In all cases the diagnosis of aortitis was incidental and was made on the basis of histopathologic findings.


Histologically, there were 30 cases of giant cell aortitis (76.9%), 3 inflammatory aneurysms (7.7%), 2 cases of aspecific lymphoplasmacellular aortitis (5.1%), 1 of Takayasu aortitis, 1 of systemic erythematosus lupus-associated aortitis, and 1 of Behçet's disease-associated aortitis. The only case of infectious aortitis was a syphilitic aortitis. In 79.5% of cases, inflammatory infiltrates were moderate to severe in degree; the most widespread inflammation was seen in Takayasu aortitis, systemic erythematosus lupus-associated aortitis, and in Behçet's disease. The overall in-hospital mortality was 10.3% (4 of 39 patients). Neurologic complications occurred in 4 patients (10.3%).


During surgery of the thoracic aorta, an inflammatory etiology of aneurysms is found in almost 5% of cases. The inflammatory process is in a histologically advanced phase, often with systemic development. Surgery can be associated with high morbidity and mortality.

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