Relapsing polychondritis

Case contributed by Charlie Chia-Tsong Hsu
Diagnosis almost certain


Dyspnea. Airway obstruction on respiratory function tests.

Patient Data

Age: 30 years
Gender: Male

Note: This case has been tagged as "legacy" as it no longer meets image preparation and/or other case publication guidelines.


Contrast enhanced CT thorax demonstrates long segment narrowing of the thoracic trachea with smooth tracheobroncheal thickening and sparing of the posterior tracheobroncheal membrane (white arrows).

There is also increased attenuation of the tracheal and central bronchial cartilages. 

Case Discussion

Relapsing polychondritis is an autoimmune disease with anti-cartilage autoantibodies production leading to recurrent inflammation of cartilaginous sites including nasal cartilage, auricular cartilage, peripheral polyarthritis, ocular inflammation and tracheobronchial involvement. Chronic airway cartilage inflammation can lead to eventual fibrosis and tracheomalacia which is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. 

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