The literature on relapsing polychondritis has been reviewed, and an additional case with swollen tender, painful ears, and polyarthritis associated with fever and malaise is presented. This syndrome is characterized by rheumatoid-like arthritis, atrophy, and dissolution of cartilages of the nose, ears, and in some cases the larynx, trachea, bronchi, joints, and costal cartilages. Fever and malaise are the only systemic manifestations of the disease.
The etiology and pathogenesis are obscure and possibly present an enzymatic or metabolic abnormality or a hypersensitivity state. A chondroid dystrophy is also mentioned. Recent evidence suggests a congenital relationship. Corticosteroids are effective in controlling the disease in most cases and may even be life-saving.
A diagnosis of relapsing polychondritis carries with it a serious prognosis, as death may occur from tracheal and bronchial stenosis.