Cardiac surgery in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Thoracic Surgery








Background. Highly active antiretroviral therapy has dramatically impacted the natural history of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and may be associated with lipodystrophy and accelerated coronary artery disease. Patients with HIV are consequently increasingly likely to present for cardiac surgery. Methods. A retrospective review of 37 consecutive patients at two integrated centers from 1994 to 2000 was conducted. Standard database and follow-up information was supplemented with data on opportunistic infections, CD4 count, viral load, New York Heart Association status, and angina status. Risk to operating room personnel was also reviewed. Results. Median age was 41 years; 34 of 37 patients were male. Operations performed were coronary artery bypass graft ([CABG] 27), aortic valve replacement ([AVR] 4), AVR/CABG (2), AVR/mitral valve repair (1), mitral valve repair (1), excision of atrial masses (1), and tricuspid valve repair (1). Complications included death in 1 of 37 (2.7%), sepsis in 2 of 37 (5.4%), deep sternal infection in 1 of 37 (2.7%), bleeding in 2 of 37 (5.4%), prolonged ventilation in 2 of 37 (5.4%), and readmission in 8 of 37 (21.6%). Actuarial freedom from a composite end point of angina, death, myocardial infarction, repeat revascularization, and congestive heart failure was 81% at 3 years with no late deaths. Preoperative and follow-up CD4 counts and viral loads were not significantly different at a mean follow-up of 28 months. No patients progressed from HIV positive status to AIDS during the study period. Six "needle stick" injuries requiring antiretroviral prophylaxis occurred in 5 caregivers without seroconversion. Conclusions. In selected patients infected with HIV, risks and outcomes of cardiac surgery are acceptable. With concomitant highly active antiretroviral therapy, intermediate HIV and cardiac status appear to be favorable. Needle stick injuries occur at a rate mandating optimal reduction of patient viral loads preoperatively. © 2003 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.