A case of calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis: The significance of an early diagnosis

February 25, 2013
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The clinical presentation of calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis, a rare entity, can mimic more serious disorders. We describe the case of a 35-year-old man who was referred to us for evaluation of a suspected retropharyngeal abscess. At presentation, the patient reported severe cervical pain and stiffness. He exhibited mild fever, torticollis, and a moderately elevated white blood count; no swelling of the retropharyngeal wall was observed. Based on the results of plain radiography and computed tomography (CT), we diagnosed the patient with calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis. He was treated with a 7-day course of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and a 3-day course of a steroid, and he recovered well. We suggest that the true incidence of calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis is actually higher than what is generally believed because this diagnosis is frequently missed. Contrast-enhanced CT can aid in diagnosing calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis. CT should be performed in patients who present with nonspecific symptoms such as severe neck pain, sore throat, odynophagia, and mild fever.


Calcific retropharyngeal tendinitis is a rare clinical entity. Affected patients generally present with an inflammation of the longus colli muscle tendon.1,2 This tendon is located on the anterior surface of the vertebral column, and it extends from the atlas to the third thoracic vertebra.

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