The acquired immune deficiency syndrome is characterized by the development of multiple recurrent opportunistic infections or unusual neoplasms in individuals with no prior history of immune suppression. This report summarizes the thoracic diseases encountered in such patients before and after death and the role of diagnostic techniques currently used in the evaluation of thoracic disease in 15 patients with this syndrome. Efficacy of treatment was determined by correlation with postmortem findings in all patients. Pulmonary disease was present in all 15 patients and necessitated 23 transbronchial biopsies in 11 patients. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and cytomegalovirus pneumonia were the most common findings. Nine open lung biopsies in eight patients disclosed either Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or Kaposi's sarcoma. Esophageal disease was present in four patients, and endoscopic evaluation demonotrated Candida esophagitis (two), esophageal Kaposi's sarcoma (one), and cytomegalovirus esophagitis and Kaposi's sarcoma (one). Mean time to death from diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome was 7.7 months, with respiratory insufficiency being the most common cause of death (9/15, 60%). Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia was successfully eradicated in 70% of the patients. Candida esophagitis was ameliorated in both patients with the disease. Unsuspected pulmonary Kaposi's sarcoma, cytomegalovirus pneumonitis, and other infectious pathogens were documented at autopsy. These data reveal that Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Candida esophagitis can be managed successfully in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome if appropriately diagnosed. The major cause of death in this series was pulmonary insufficiency, often the result of severe cytomegalovirus infection. Thoracic surgeons must continue to play an aggressive and important role in the early diagnosis and management of potentially treatable pulmonary and esophageal disease in these patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine