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Syphilitic Aortitis in Secondary Syphilis

Andreas Dietrich, MD1; Gerd G. Gauglitz, MD1; Thomas T. Pfluger, MD, PhD2; Thomas Herzinger, MD, PhD1; Markus Braun-Falco, MD, PhD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, Germany
2Department of Nuclear Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, Germany
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(7):790-791. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.9537.
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Syphilis is a mainly sexually transmitted infection that may show a variety of symptoms at various stages. Syphilitic aortitis is a known complication of tertiary syphilis and can cause aneurysm of the aorta.1 In the era of antibiotics, cardiovascular syphilis has become very rare.2 Nevertheless it can cause life-threatening or even fatal symptoms and should therefore be diagnosed at an early stage.3

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Figure 1.
Clinical Image of Secondary Syphilis

Dark purple scaly plaques and nodules on the thighs.

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Figure 2.
Syphilitic Aortitis Diagnosis Confirmed Via Multiple Imaging Techniques

A, 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG)positron emission tomography (PET) demonstrates a maximum isotope uptake of the descending aorta. B, 18F-FDG PET alongside computed tomography (CT) clearly demonstrates the maximum isotope uptake of the descending aorta. C, Radiographic CT demonstrates thickening of the aortic wall and aortic sclerosis in the transverse plane.

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[SPECT and FDG-PET in diagnostics of neurolues]. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2008;120(19-20 Suppl 4):20-3.
Syphilitic aortitis in secondary syphilis. JAMA Dermatol 2014;150(7):790-1.