Background: Extranodal malignant lymphomas (ML) are known to occur with increased frequency in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection. The authors report a 30-year-old man with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) with ML primarily involving the heart and compare the clinical and pathologic features to those of previously reported patients.
Methods: The patient's hospital record was reviewed and pertinent clinical data were abstracted. Tissue obtained at autopsy was processed for routine light microscopic study and immunohistochemistry. A computer-assisted search of the medical literature for patients with malignant cardiac lymphoma was performed.
Results: The patient's initial signs and symptoms were nonspecific, and an abnormal gallium scan suggested pericarditis. Clinically, the course was characterized by progressive heart failure. Autopsy disclosed a diffuse large cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma of B-cell phenotype with massive involvement of the pericardium and extension into the myocardium. A literature search revealed 22 patients with cardiac lymphoma associated with AIDS. Clinical findings were nonspecific, but rapid progression of cardiac dysfunction was common after symptoms appeared. Pathologically, most lymphomas were of diffuse aggressive subtypes.
Conclusions: ML of the heart is extremely rare but is being encountered with increasing frequency in patients with AIDS. The diagnosis should be considered in such patients in whom cardiovascular symptoms develop suddenly and progress rapidly.