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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Benign Mimic of Dangerous Neck Pathology: A Case Report of Longus Colli Calcific Tendonitis


Introduction: Longus colli calcific tendonitis (LCCT) is a calcium deposition disease that causes acute or subacute atraumatic neck pain. It is important for the emergency physician to consider LCCT in the differential diagnosis because the clinical presentation of this benign condition may mimic life-threatening disease processes that require invasive diagnostic measures.

Case Report: We present a case of a 63-year-old female with atraumatic right-sided neck pain. On exam she had tenderness to palpation in the neck, as well as difficulty ranging her neck and opening her mouth. She underwent computed tomography of her neck with intravenous contrast, which showed calcific tendonitis of the longus colli muscle with retropharyngeal edema. She was seen by otolaryngology, underwent nasopharyngolaryngoscopy, and ultimately was discharged with antibiotics and corticosteroids.

Conclusion: The presentation of LCCT can mimic symptoms of dangerous causes of neck pain including retropharyngeal abscess and meningitis. Early diagnosis in the ED can potentially avoid more invasive diagnostic and therapeutic measures. While LCCT is thought to be self-limiting, it can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids. If pain is controlled, patients can be discharged from the ED with no specialist follow-up required.

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