Which physical findings are characteristic of auricular chondritis in relapsing polychondritis (RP)?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Nicholas Compton, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Of patients with relapsing polychondritis, 85%-95% develop auricular chondritis. Unilateral or bilateral auricular pain, swelling, and redness develop suddenly but spare the lobules. [29] See the image below.

Auricular edema and erythema sparing the lobule. C Auricular edema and erythema sparing the lobule. Courtesy of Gregory J. Raugi, MD, PhD.

The pain and redness usually resolve within 2-4 weeks but may recur.

The ear cartilage softens and collapses forward. The external auditory canal can collapse after one or more episodes. See the images below.

Forward listing ear. Courtesy of the University of Forward listing ear. Courtesy of the University of Washington, Division of Dermatology.
Bilateral inflammation and structural collapse of Bilateral inflammation and structural collapse of the auricles in a patient found to have aortic dissection. Courtesy of the University of Washington, Division of Dermatology.

Nodularity of the auricle may develop. Calcification occurs in 40% of patients.


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