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Relapsing polychondritis: an unusual cause of sore throat, painful ear swelling and bilateral costal margin pain
  1. Shuang Wang1,
  2. Christopher Chi2,
  3. Dan Xu3,4 and
  4. Yujin Ye1
  1. 1Rheumatology, Sun Yat-sen University First Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
  2. 2Curtin Medical School, Curtin University Bentley Campus, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Curtin Medical School/School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University Bentley Campus, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  4. 4Medical Education & General Practice, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yan-Sen University, Guangzhou, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dan Xu; daniel.xu{at}


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.

  • rheumatology
  • ear
  • nose and throat

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  • Contributors CC and SW are equal 1st authors and are contributing to the initial draft, review and editing of the manuscript. DX is the corresponding author and YY is cocorresponding author. Both are contributing to the review and editing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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