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Papers of the Week

2021 Feb 04

BMJ Case Rep



Relapsing polychondritis: an unusual cause of sore throat, painful ear swelling and bilateral costal margin pain.


A 54-year-old Chinese woman presented with a 3-month history of sore throat and dry cough, which was treated as chronic pharyngitis with minimal improvement. One month ago, she presented with painful right ear swelling without signs or symptoms of otitis media or otitis externa. She was treated with antibiotics and antiviral drugs without any improvement. Two weeks prior to her presentation to hospital, she developed bilateral costal margin pain with raised C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), mild chronic pharyngitis and painful right ear swelling. All other investigations including bloods and imaging were non-specific. Her painful right auricle swelling prompted the diagnosis of relapsing polychondritis (RP), which was supported by clinical improvement with high-dose corticosteroids. RP is a clinical diagnosis with non-specific inflammation of affected cartilage. It is a diagnosis of exclusion and early diagnosis can be made by the most common presenting feature of auricular chondritis.