Imaging

Polychondritis

Preliminary Diagnosis: Polychondritis

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

Non contrast CT of the soft tissues of the neck or area of concern.

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosing polychondritis.

Advantages

  • Highly sensitive and specific in detailing cartilage destruction of the ear, nose, and airway.

  • Highly specific in detecting airway wall thickness, airway wall calcification, and attenuation with sparing of the posterior tracheal wall, which are all findings noted in polychondritis.

  • Offers exquisite detail in detecting and characterizing cartilage destruction.

  • CT imaging (expiratory phase) of the chest may detail collapse of the airway secondary to malacia due to changes from polychondritis.

  • Relatively fast imaging modality.

Disadvantages

  • Exposes patients to ionizing radiation.

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

May be contraindicated in pregnant patients.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

No alternative imaging techniques exist.

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