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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Salmonella Aortitis in an Elderly Male, a Rare but Deadly Cause of Abdominal Pain: A Case Report


Introduction: Infectious aortitis is a rare condition with mortality rates approaching 100% without surgical intervention. Symptoms and findings may be vague. Computed tomography (CT) with intravenous (IV) contrast, once the gold standard of diagnosis, may only show subtle findings. More recently, CT angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonance angiography have become the diagnostic modalities of choice.

Case Report: A 58-year-old diabetic male presented to our emergency department with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, and abdominal pain of two weeks duration. The patient had been seen just days before at another facility with the same complaints. He received an abdominal CT with IV contrast that was reported as negative and discharged with the diagnosis of gastroenteritis. He failed to improve and presented to our facility. On presentation, the patient was diaphoretic and uncomfortable. A repeat abdominal CT with IV contrast revealed a mantle of low density around the aorta. The patient was started on IV antibiotics, and a follow-up CTA of the abdomen and pelvis showed an irregular saccular aneurysm. Vascular surgery was consulted, and the patient underwent vascular reconstruction.

Conclusion: Because of the high level of mortality seen in infectious aortitis and improvement in patient outcomes with surgical intervention, a high index of suspicion needs to be maintained in patients presenting with fever and chest, abdominal, and back pain, especially in the setting of risk factors and bacteremia. The clinician should be aware that the usual modality for the evaluation of abdominal pain, CT with IV contrast, may not be adequate to make the diagnosis.

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