French practical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of relapsing polychondritis

Rev Med Interne. 2023 Jun;44(6):282-294. doi: 10.1016/j.revmed.2023.05.005. Epub 2023 May 24.


Relapsing polychondritis is a rare systemic disease. It usually begins in middle-aged individuals. This diagnosis is mainly suggested in the presence of chondritis, i.e. inflammatory flares on the cartilage, in particular of the ears, nose or respiratory tract, and more rarely in the presence of other manifestations. The formal diagnosis of relapsing polychondritis cannot be established with certainty before the onset of chondritis, which can sometimes occur several years after the first signs. No laboratory test is specific of relapsing polychondritis, the diagnosis is usually based on clinical evidence and the elimination of differential diagnoses. Relapsing polychondritis is a long-lasting and often unpredictable disease, evolving in the form of relapses interspersed with periods of remission that can be very prolonged. Its management is not codified and depends on the nature of the patient's symptoms and association or not with myelodysplasia/vacuoles, E1 enzyme, X linked, autoinflammatory, somatic (VEXAS). Some minor forms can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or a short course of corticosteroids with possibly a background treatment of colchicine. However, the treatment strategy is often based on the lowest possible dosage of corticosteroids combined with background treatment with conventional immunosuppressants (e.g. methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, rarely cyclophosphamide) or targeted therapies. Specific strategies are required if relapsing polychondritis is associated with myelodysplasia/VEXAS. Forms limited to the cartilage of the nose or ears have a good prognosis. Involvement of the cartilage of the respiratory tract, cardiovascular involvement, and association with myelodysplasia/VEXAS (more frequent in men over 50years of age) are detrimental to the prognosis of the disease.

Keywords: Gestion; La polychondrite récidivante; Management; Myelodysplasia; Myélodysplasie; Relapsing polychondritis; VEXAS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Bone Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes* / complications
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / diagnosis
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / epidemiology
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / therapy


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones

Supplementary concepts

  • VEXAS syndrome