Tietze syndrome

Last revised by Yuranga Weerakkody on 07 Apr 2021

Tietze syndrome is a benign condition characterized by a self-limiting inflammation of the costal cartilages often with hypertrophy. Although often described as such, it is not a costochondritis 9.

The exact incidence of occurrence is not known. It is seen most commonly in the 2nd to 5th decades of life. Both sexes are affected equally.

It is characterized as a tender, non-suppurative swelling in the upper costosternal region. It can have an acute or gradual onset and may resolve spontaneously. It may mimic a myocardial infarction, but the pain in Tietze syndrome is more localized and is not accompanied by any additional presenting symptoms.

The pathogenesis of Tietze syndrome remains unknown but it is thought to relate to recurrent microtrauma and/or airway infection 9.

MRI features of Tietze syndrome were characterized according to one study as follows 1:

  • enlargement and thickening of cartilage at the site of the complaint
  • focal or widespread increased signal intensities of affected cartilage on both TSE T2-weighted and STIR/T2 fat-saturated images
  • bone marrow edema in the subchondral bone
  • intense gadolinium enhancement in the areas of thickened cartilage, in the subchondral bone marrow, and/or in the capsule and ligaments

Ga-67 imaging often shows increased radiotracer uptake 7.

It is a benign condition that may subside spontaneously. Some authors suggest local steroid injection as a possible treatment option 6.

First described in 1921 by Alexander Tietze (1864-1927), a German surgeon 8,9.

The differential diagnosis of Tietze syndrome runs the full spectrum of musculoskeletal chest wall pain, as well as:

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: Tietze Syndrome
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  • Case 2: Tietze syndrome
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