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.


  • 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.


  • 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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