Capps triad

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 25 Jul 2022

Capps triad refers to the constellation of clinical and imaging findings in patients with a spontaneous retropharyngeal hematoma, and consists of:

  1. tracheal and esophageal compression
  2. anterior displacement of the trachea
  3. subcutaneous bruising over the neck and anterior chest

History and etymology

This triad is named after an American physician, Richard B Capps (1906-1976) 3 who described a retropharyngeal hemorrhage due to multiple bleeding parathyroid tumors in 1934. Interestingly, despite the ascribed eponym, Capps did not describe a triad in this paper, indeed there is no mention of anterior tracheal displacement anywhere in the article 2! This is a classic example of Stigler's law of eponymy at work.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads