Unusual cause of medial clavicle pain: osteoarthritis in an abnormal costoclavicular articulation

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The occurrence of musculoskeletal manifestations (including synovitis, chest wall arthro-osteitis and multifocal aseptic osteomyelitis) in association with severe acne, palmoplantar pustulosis and perhaps with some presentations of psoriasis, have been described by many authors in the past 30 years. These different multifaceted descriptions have been designated by a variety of terms. More recently, a possible link between these conditions and spondarthritides has also been underlined by a slightly increased prevalence of HLA-B27 and occasional occurrences of sacroiliitis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and possibly psoriasis. An acronym, the SAPHO syndrome (which stands for Synovitis, Acne, Pustulosis, Hyperostosis and Osteitis) is proposed for this group of diseases because of the similarity of musculoskeletal manifestations in patients with severe acne and pustulosis. The clinical, epidemiological, pathophysiological, immunogenetic and diagnostic aspects, as well as the management of this syndrome, are reviewed.
Two patients with a costoclavicular joint were discovered by chance during a survey of cervical spines. These seem to be the first to be described in the radiological literature. No other case was found in a further review of 500 consecutive spine radiographs. The costoclavicular joint is a variant of the ligamentous connection between the medial part of the clavicle and the first rib.
The purpose of this retrospective study was to examine the value of whole-body nuclear medicine imaging and to evaluate the typical scintigraphic pattern of sternocostoclavicular hyperostosis (SCCH) and/or pustulotic arthroosteitis (PAO). In this entity the correct diagnosis is frequently missed because of uncharacteristic changes in other imaging modalities. Forty-nine patients (age range 15-65 years old, mean age 36 years) with sternocostoclavicular hyperostosis (SCCH) and/or pustulotic arthroosteitis (PAO) were examined with whole-body scintigraphy and conventional radiography. Forty-three of 49 patients with SCCH/PAO showed a characteristic "bullhead"-like high tracer uptake of the sternocostoclavicular region with the manubrium sterni representing the upper skull and the inflamed sternoclavicular joints corresponding to the horns (= bullhead sign). Scintigraphy revealed additional skeletal manifestations (spondylitis, sacroiliitis, osteitis) in 33 of 49 patients with SCCH and/or PAO. Bone scintigraphy is the imaging modality of choice for the diagnosis of skeletal involvement in PAO. Nuclear medicine reveals unexpected locations and shows the typical pattern of focal hot spots of the spine, sacroiliac joints and/or appendicular skeleton in the large majority of cases in combination with a bullhead-like tracer uptake of the sternocostoclavicular region. The bullhead sign is the typical and highly specific scintigraphic manifestation of SCCH and PAO in radionuclide bone scans and helps to avoid unnecessary biopsies.