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Author: Dr Mark Duffill, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2008.
Relapsing polychondritis is a rare autoimmune disorder characterised by recurrent episodes of inflammation and destruction of cartilaginous tissues.
Relapsing polychondritis most commonly presents as inflammation of the cartilage of the ears and nose.
Antibodies to type 2 collagen in cartilage are found. As with other autoimmune diseases, exactly why these antibodies form is not known.
A blood screen shows signs of inflammation. Antibody to type 2 collagen may be measured by certain specialist laboratories.
A tissue biopsy shows inflammation in the cartilage.
Systemic corticosteroids (such as prednisone) remain the mainstay of treatment. Other treatments that are sometimes prescribed include:
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