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

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February 25, 2013
by Kyoichi Terao, MD, PhD; Takeshi Kusunoki, MD, PhD; Kazunori Mori, MD, PhD; Kiyotaka Murata, MD, PhD; Katsumi Doi, MD, PhD


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.

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