Extra-articular symptoms could be the first manifestation of gouty arthritis (GA); polyarticular GA can mimic an infectious arthritis; infection can complicate GA.
A 66-year-old male with a history of gout presented with high fever and excruciating bilateral calf pain for 1 day. Examination revealed chronic knee effusions; range of motion in both knees was limited by calf pain. Joint aspiration showed negatively birefringent intracellular crystals and normal gram stain.
While receiving empiric antibiotics fever continued and he developed bilateral knee, right ankle, and shoulder pain. After demonstration of urate crystals and exclusion of infection, antibiotics were discontinued and steroids initiated. Fever, calf pain, and polyarthritis quickly resolved.
Polyarticular gouty attack is an uncommon presentation of gout, and can mimic several other conditions. An exceptional presentation of this entity is excruciating calf pain, probably caused by tenosynovitis or referred pain preceding an acute polyarticular gouty attack.
gout; polyarticular; calf pain
Methods: Four male patients with chronic gout with tophi affecting the knee joints (three cases) or the olecranon processes of the elbows (one case) were assessed. Crystallographic analyses of the synovial fluid or tissue aspirates of the areas of interest were made with polarising light microscopy, alizarin red staining, and x ray diffraction. CT was performed with a GE scanner, MR imaging was obtained with a 1.5 T Magneton (Siemens), and ultrasonography with colour Doppler was carried out by standard technique.
Results: Crystallographic analyses showed monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in the specimens of the four patients; hydroxyapatite and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystals were not found. A diffuse soft tissue thickening was seen on plain radiographs but no calcifications or ossifications of the tophi. CT disclosed lesions containing round and oval opacities, with a mean density of about 160 Hounsfield units (HU). With MRI, lesions were of low to intermediate signal intensity on T1 and T2 weighting. After contrast injection in two cases, enhancement of the tophus was seen in one. Colour Doppler US showed the tophi to be hypoechogenic with peripheral increase of the blood flow in three cases.
Conclusion: The MR and colour Doppler US images showed the tophi as masses surrounded by a hypervascular area, which cannot be considered as specific for gout. But on CT images, masses of about 160 HU density were clearly seen, which correspond to MSU crystal deposits.
Gout is a common metabolic disease in which monosodium urate crystals called tophi develop. Spinal involvement in gout resulting in neural compression is unusual. We describe a case of a 64-year-old man with a history of gouty arthritis of the knee. The patient presented with thoracic myelopathy and radiculopathy. Imaging of the spine revealed an extradural mass lesion with bony erosion of the thoracic spine. A decompressive operation was performed, and a chalky white material was found. Histopathological examination confirmed a gouty tophus. The symptoms of spinal gout vary and its radiological features are not sufficiently specific to provide a definite diagnosis. Therefore, in patients with a history of gouty arthritis who present with neural compressive symptoms of the spine, spinal gout should be strongly suspected.
Gout; Spine; Myelopathy; Radiculopathy
Ten cases of gouty arthritis are described in association with psoriasis. Eight were receiving intensive inpatient treatment for their skin condition. Diagnosis was based on clinical grounds or, in 3 cases, by compensated polarizing microscopy (CPM) of synovial fluid. All patients were male and 5 of them had conditions other than psoriasis known to predispose to hyperuricaemia. The patients appeared to fit into three groups: five had typical lower limb gout occurring in conjunction with long-standing extensive psoriasis; 3 patients had preceding features of inflammatory synovitis, one of whom subsequently developed typical distal interphalangeal involvement of peripheral psoriatic arthritis; two patients appeared to have coincident gout and psoriasis.
We believe that an association of gout with extensive long-standing psoriasis may exist particularly in male patients with an additional cause for hyperuricaemia. Long-term studies of a large population of psoriatics are required. Previous reports may have underestimated the incidence of gout because of failure to examine synovial fluid for crystals particularly from those patients with a subacute large joint arthropathy.
Hypercalcemia has been widely associated with granulomatous processes. This is due to enhanced extra-renal conversion of calcidiol to calcitriol by activated macrophages within the granuloma. Symptomatic hypercalcemia due to granulomatous disorders is not common, with the incidence in sarcoidosis ranging from 10–20%. Large aggregates of monosodium urate crystals in patients with longstanding chronic tophaceous gout can serve as the inciting antigen for the development of granuloma, but hypercalcemia has not been described in this context. We report a case of symptomatic hypercalcemia due to gouty tophi induced granulomatous inflammation. Long term treatment with immunosuppressants, in addition to bisphosphonates and uric acid lowering therapy, has led to stabilization of serum calcium levels and other lab parameters indicative of granulomatous burden.
An association between urate gout and chondrocalcinosis has been suggested in several studies, but the situation remains ill-defined because of lack of appropriate controls, small numbers of patients studied, or retrospective investigation. An association has also been claimed between gout and avascular necrosis of the femoral head. 138 patients with gout and 142 non-gouty control subjects were carefully matched for age and x-rays were taken of the knees and pelvis. Chondrocalcinosis of the knees was detected in 8 patients with gout (5.8%), no cases being found in the control group. The difference is significant (P less than 0.025). Deposits were linear or irregular. Six of the 8 patients gave a history of acute synovitis of the knees; fluid had been aspirated in 2 of them, urate crystals being found in one and no crystals in the other. Six of 8 patients showed evidence of chondrocalcinosis elsewhere. No association was apparent between chondrocalcinosis and the presence of tophaceous deposits or renal impairment, though the duration of gout appeared to be longer in the patients with chondrocalcinosis than in the other gout patients and osteoarthrosis of the knees commoner. There was no evidence of other metabolic disorders commonly associated with chondrocalcinosis. No cases of avascular necrosis of the femoral head were found.
The prevalence of gout is increasing with increased life expectancy. Approximately half of the patients with gout have some degree of renal impairment. If both conditions persistently coexist, and in severe tophaceous gout, in particular, treatment has been difficult. We here report on the case of an 87-year-old woman, who had been suffering from recurrent gouty arthritis over 4 years. Monthly polyarthritis attacks were accompanied by subcutaneous tophi. Serum uric acid levels were constantly above 600 μmol/L (10 mg/dL). Allopurinol was no option because of intolerance, while benzbromarone was ineffective because of renal impairment. Therefore, the novel xanthin oxidase inhibitor febuxostat was started, achieving rapid control of serum urate levels (<360 μmol/L). After initial worsening of inflammation in the first weeks, gouty attacks stopped and all tophi resolved within the following 10 months. Renal function remained stable.
Crystal deposition in asymptomatic knee and first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints has been studied in 31 patients with previously proven gout. All had had clinical gout in their MTP joints but their knee joints had never been the site of acute gout. Knee arthroscopy was performed permitting synovial membrane inspection, photography and biopsy. Crystalline material was seen in 9 knees (28%) and confirmed histologically as monosodium urate (MSU) in 4 (12.5%). Synovial fluid analysis on 26 samples using a polarizing light microscope demonstrated MSU crystals in 4 (12.5%) and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) in 2 (6%). Fluid aspirated from 27 of the metatarsophalangeal joints revealed MSU crystals in 14 (52%) and no CPPD crystals.
This article presents the case of a patient with pain associated with a total hip replacement. Following aspiration microscopy, a diagnosis of gout in a total hip replacement was made. Successful treatment was instituted with medical management in the presence of coexisting aseptic loosening. Gout in a total hip replacement is an exceptionally rare diagnosis. The gold standard for diagnosis is not urate level but crystal identification in the synovial fluid. The authors would therefore recommend that as part of a thorough workup for painful prosthetic joint requiring revision, a present or past history of gout is sought and a fluid aspirate should be examined not only for infection but also under polarized light for crystal arthropathy.
gout arthropathy; revision hip; aspiration microscopy
To determine whether hypouricaemic treatment results in the disappearance of urate crystals from gouty joints and to define the time required.
In 18 patients with monosodium urate (MSU) crystal proven gout, and after the initiation of successful serum uric acid (SUA)‐lowering treatment, an arthrocentesis of the asymptomatic signal joint (11 knees, 7 first metatarsophalangeal joints) was performed every 3 months to obtain a synovial fluid (SF) sample. The sample was then analysed for the presence of MSU crystals, and the number of crystals/400× field was noted. SUA levels and the duration of gout were also noted.
MSU crystals disappeared from the SF of all 18 joints after reduction of SUA to normal levels. The time required for disappearance ranged from 3 to 33 months; disappearance time correlated with the duration of gout (rs = 0.71; p<0.01). The median number of MSU crystals in the SF samples before urate‐lowering treatment was 7.5 (2.5–11) crystals/400× field, reducing to 3 (1–6.5) crystals/400× field (p<0.05) at 3 months. Crystal counts continued to decrease after 3 months.
In gout, reduction of SUA to normal levels results in disappearance of urate crystals from SF, requiring a longer time in those patients with gout of longer duration. This indicates that urate crystal deposition in joints is reversible. Normalisation of SUA levels results in a decrease in the concentration of MSU crystals in SF in the asymptomatic gouty joints. This may partially explain the reduced frequency of gouty attacks when a patient has been treated with SUA‐lowering drugs.
gout; monosodium urate crystals; synovial fluid; gout treatment
Gouty arthritis is a characteristically intense acute inflammatory reaction that erupts in response to articular deposits of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals. Important recent molecular biologic advances in this field have given us a clear picture of the mechanistic basis of gouty inflammation. The innate immune inflammatory response is critically involved in the pathology of gout. Specifically, MSU crystals promote inflammation directly by stimulating cells via Toll-like receptor signaling and by providing a surface for cleavage of C5 and formation of complement membrane attack complex (C5b-9), culminating in secretion of cytokines, chemokines, and other inflammatory mediators with a dramatic influx of neutrophils into the joint. Despite the detailed mechanistic picture for gouty inflammation, there are no placebo-controlled, randomized clinical studies for any of the therapies commonly used, although comparative studies have demonstrated that many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are equivalent to indomethacin with respect to controlling acute gouty attacks. In general, the first line of anti-inflammatory therapy for acute gout is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and the selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib can be used where appropriate. The second line of treatment is glucocorticosteroids, given systemically (oral, intravenous, or intramuscular) or intra-articularly. Alternatively, synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone is effective, partly via induction of adrenal glucocorticosteroids and partly via rapid peripheral suppression of leukocyte activation by melatonin receptor 3 signaling. The third line of treatment is oral colchicine, which is highly effective when given early in an acute gouty attack, but it is poorly tolerated because of predictable gastrointestinal side effects.
There are many exciting new applications for advanced imaging in gout. These modalities employ multiplanar imaging and allow computerized three-dimensional rendering of bone and joints (including tophi) and have the advantage of electronic data storage for later retrieval. High-resolution computed tomography has been particularly helpful in exploring the pathology of gout by investigating the relationship between bone erosions and tophi. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography can image the inflammatory nature of gouty arthropathy, revealing synovial and soft tissue inflammation, and can provide information about the composition and vascularity of tophi. Dual-energy computerized tomography is a new modality that is able to identify tophi by their chemical composition and reveal even small occult tophaceous deposits. All modalities are being investigated for their potential roles in diagnosis and could have important clinical applications in the patient for whom aspiration of monosodium urate crystals from the joint is not possible. Imaging can also provide outcome measures, such as change in tophus volume, for monitoring the response to urate-lowering therapy and this is an important application in the clinical trial setting.
Facet joint injection is considered to be a safe procedure. There have been some reported cases of facet joint pyogenic infection and also 3 cases of facet joint infection spreading to paraspinal muscle and epidural space due to intra-articular injections. To the author's knowledge, paraspinal and epidural abscesses after facet joint injection without facet joint pyogenic infection have not been reported. Here we report a case in which extra-articular facet joint injection resulted in paraspinal and epidural abscesses without facet joint infection. A 50-year-old man presenting with acute back pain and fever was admitted to the hospital. He had the history of diabetes mellitus and had undergone the extra-articular facet joint injection due to a facet joint syndrome diagnosis at a private clinic 5 days earlier. Physical examination showed tenderness over the paraspinal region. Magnetic resonance image (MRI) demonstrated the paraspinal abscess around the fourth and fifth spinous processes with an additional epidural abscess compressing the thecal sac. The facet joints were preserved. The laboratory results showed a white blood cell count of 14.9 × 109 per liter, an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 52mm/hour, and 10.88mg/dL of C-reactive protein. Laminectomy and drainage were performed. The pus was found in the paraspinal muscles, which was communicated with the epidural space through a hole in the ligamentum flavum. Cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus. Paraspinal abscess communicated with epidural abscess is a rare complication of extra-articular facet joint injection demonstrating an abscess formation after an invasive procedure near the spine is highly possible.
Complication; infection; injection; facet joint
To assess concordance of the management of chronic gout in UK primary care with the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) gout recommendations.
A postal questionnaire was sent to all adults aged >30 years registered with two general practices. Patients with possible gout attended for clinical assessment, at which the diagnosis was verified clinically. Aspects of chronic gout management, including provision of lifestyle modification advice, use of urate‐lowering therapies (ULT) including dose titration to serum urate (SUA) level, prophylaxis against acute attacks, and diuretic cessation were assessed in accordance with the EULAR recommendations.
Of 4249 (32%) completed questionnaires returned, 488 reported gout or acute attacks and were invited for clinical assessment. Of 359 attendees, 164 clinically confirmed cases of gout were identified. Advice regarding alcohol consumption was recalled by 59 (41%), weight loss by 36 (25%) and diet by 42 (29%). Allopurinol was the only ULT used and was taken by 44 (30%); 31 (70%) were taking 300 mg daily. Mean SUA was lower in allopurinol users than non‐users (318 vs 434 μmol/l) and was less often >360 μmol/l in allopurinol users (23% vs 75%). Eight patients had recently commenced allopurinol; two of these also were taking prophylactic colchicine or non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. Of 25 patients with diuretic‐induced gout, 16 (64%) were still taking a diuretic.
Treatment of chronic gout is often suboptimal and poorly concordant with EULAR recommendations. Lifestyle advice is infrequently offered, and allopurinol is restricted to a minority. Persistent hyperuricaemia was often seen in allopurinol non‐users, but was also in allopurinol users, suggesting that doses >300 mg are often necessary.
gout; primary health care; lifestyle risk reduction; allopurinol; EULAR recommendations
Gout is an autoinflammatory disorder associated with deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in joints and periarticular tissues. Recent advances suggest that the innate immune system may drive the gouty inflammatory response to MSU. These findings prompt questions concerning how the innate immune system recognizes MSU and the identities of the receptors involved. In this issue of the JCI, Chen et al. show that the IL-1 receptor and its signaling protein myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (MyD88) but not the “classical” innate immune receptors, TLRs, are central for MSU-induced inflammation (see the related article beginning on page 2262).
Monosodium urate monohydrate (MSU) crystals synergize with various toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands to induce cytokine production via activation of the NOD-like receptor (NLR) family, pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLPR3) inflammasome. This has been demonstrated in vitro using human cell lines or monocytes of healthy volunteers. In the present study, we have investigated the effect of MSU crystals and of their combination with TLR ligands in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of patients with gout.
PBMCs from 18 patients with primary gout and 12 healthy donors were exposed to MSU crystals in the presence or absence of saturated fatty acid C18:0 (free fatty acid, TLR2 ligand), palmitoyl-3-cystein (Pam3Cys, TLR1/2 ligand) and fibroblast stimulating factor-1 (FSL-1, TLR 2/6 ligand). Production of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) was determined by ELISA. mRNA transcripts of IL-1β were measured by real-time PCR.
MSU crystals alone failed to induce IL-1β, IL-6 or TNFα in both patients and control groups, but a stronger synergy between MSU/Pam3Cys and MSU/C18:0 for the induction of IL-1β was found in patients with gout compared to healthy controls. IL-6, but not IL-8, followed the kinetics of IL-1β. No production of the neutrophil-recruiting IL-17 was detectable after stimulation of the patients' PBMCs with MSU in both the presence or absence of TLR ligands. No change of gene transcripts of IL-1β after stimulation with MSU and Pam3Cys or with MSU and C18:0 was found. A positive correlation was found between synergy in IL-1β production from PBMCs of patients between C18:0 and MSU crystals, as well as the annual number of attacks of acute gouty arthritis (rs: +0.649, P: 0.022).
The synergy between MSU crystals and TLR-2 ligands is more prominent in patients with gout than in controls. This is likely mediated by the enhanced maturation of pro-IL-1β into IL-1β.
OBJECTIVE: To establish if computed tomography (CT) imaging, which has proved helpful in detecting intra-articular tophi in gout, can also be used to document gouty enthesopathy and tendinopathy. METHODS: Three patients with tophaceous gout and clinical involvement of the Achilles tendon (two cases) or patellar tendon (one case) were assessed with CT examination and plain radiographs. RESULTS: In the first two cases, CT images revealed linear or nodular high attenuation opacities within the substance of the Achilles tendons and their calcaneal insertion. In case 3, dense linear opacities were seen within the patellar tendon and within its tibial insertion. No such opacities of the tendons and entheses were seen on standard radiographs of these patients. CONCLUSIONS: CT appears to be the imaging method of choice for demonstrating monosodium urate deposits in entheses and tendons in tophaceous gout.
Gout and classical rheumatoid arthritis rarely coexist. We report a patient with strong evidence for both these diseases. Possible reasons for the negative correlation between these diseases are summarised. One hypothesis suggests inhibition of surface activity of monosodium urate crystals (MSU) by binding of rheumatoid factor (RF). This was studied with a purified monoclonal rheumatoid factor (mRF) with specificity for IgG. The mRF bound preferentially to MSU coated with IgG in contrast with the IgM control. Inhibition of the neutrophil chemiluminescence (CL) response to IgG-coated MSU was observed at concentrations of mRF that had no effect on the CL response to uncoated crystals. Neutrophil activation was not altered by coating crystals with an IgM control at the same concentration. These data suggest that RF may bind to antigenic determinants on exposed Fc of adsorbed IgG and block the interaction of crystal-bound IgG with Fc receptors. Although crystal coating by RF may modify the expression of gouty arthritis, it is unlikely to be the sole explanation for the dissociation between gout and RA.
Gout is a prevalent inflammatory arthritis affecting 1–2% of adults characterized by activation of innate immune cells by monosodium urate (MSU) crystals resulting in the secretion of interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Since neutrophils play a major role in gout we sought to determine whether their activation may involve the formation of proinflammatory neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in relation to autophagy and IL-1β.
Synovial fluid neutrophils from six patients with gout crisis and peripheral blood neutrophils from six patients with acute gout and six control subjects were isolated. MSU crystals, as well as synovial fluid or serum obtained from patients with acute gout, were used for the treatment of control neutrophils. NET formation was assessed using immunofluorescence microscopy. MSU crystals or synovial fluid or serum from patients induced NET formation in control neutrophils. Importantly, NET production was observed in neutrophils isolated from synovial fluid or peripheral blood from patients with acute gout. NETs contained the alarmin high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) supporting their pro-inflammatory potential. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling or phagolysosomal fusion prevented NET formation, implicating autophagy in this process. NET formation was driven at least in part by IL-1β as demonstrated by experiments involving IL-1β and its inhibitor anakinra.
These findings document for the first time that activation of neutrophils in gout is associated with the formation of proinflammatory NETs and links this process to both autophagy and IL-1β. Modulation of the autophagic machinery may represent an additional therapeutic study in crystalline arthritides.
Gout is an ancient disease. Last decade has brought about significant advancement in imaging technology and real scientific growth in the understanding of the pathophysiology of gout, leading to the availability of multiple effective noninvasive diagnostic imaging options for gout and treatment options fighting inflammation and controlling urate levels. Despite this, gout is still being sub-optimally treated, often by nonspecialists. Increased awareness of optimal treatment options and an increasing role of ultrasound and dual energy computed tomography (DECT) in the diagnosis and management of gout are expected to transform the management of gout and limit its morbidity. DECT gives an accurate assessment of the distribution of the deposited monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in gout and quantifies them. The presence of a combination of the ultrasound findings of an effusion, tophus, erosion and the double contour sign in conjunction with clinical presentation may be able to obviate the need for intervention and joint aspiration in a certain case population for the diagnosis of gout. The purpose of this paper is to review imaging appearances of gout and its clinical applications.
The cervical spine is a rare site where tophaceous gout has been identified. There are currently 15 described cases in the literature of gouty involvement of the cervical spine with only three cases involving only the atlanto-axial region. We add the fourth of such cases and only the second to be managed operatively.
Gout; Cervical arthropathy; Atlanto-axial subluxation; Crystal arthropathy
Gout is a common inflammatory arthritis caused by articular precipitation of monosodium urate crystals. It usually affects the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the foot and less commonly other joints, such as wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.
We report the case of a 75-year-old Caucasian man with tophaceous multiarticular gout, soft-tissue involvement and ulcerated tophi on the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the left foot, on the first interphalangeal joint of the right foot and on the left thumb.
Ulcers due to tophaceous gout are currently uncommon considering the positive effect of pharmaceutical treatment in controlling hyperuricemia. Surgical treatment is seldom required for gout and is usually reserved for cases of recurrent attacks with deformities, severe pain, infection and joint destruction.
Gout is a common metabolic disease characterized by the development of arthritis and nephropathy related to the deposition of monosodium urate crystals within the joints, periarticular tissues, skin and kidneys. Tophus formation seen around the spinal column is very rare, while occurrences of spinal gout tophus without systemic gout disease are much more unique. In our study, we report a spinal gout case that presented with right sciatica without previous history of systemic gout disease.
Gout tophus; Radiculopathy; Spinal column; Management
Gout is clinically characterized by episodes of monoarthritis, but if not treated properly, it can lead to a chronic polyarthritis, which may eventually mimic rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We present the case of a 59-year-old man, with a history of symmetrical polyarthritis of the large and small joints with later development of subcutaneous nodules, which was initially misdiagnosed as RA, being treated with prednisone and methotrexate for a long period of time. He complained of occipital pain and paresthesia in his left upper limb, and computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed the presence of an expansive formation in the cervical spine with compression of the medulla. He was admitted for spinal decompressive surgery and the biopsy specimen demonstrated a gouty tophus. Chronic gout can mimic RA and rarely involves the axial skeleton, and thus its correct diagnosis and the implementation of adequate therapy can halt the development of such damaging complications.
In five patients with acute arthritis in whom gout was eventually documented, an initial synovial fluid analysis failed to reveal urate crystals. Four of the patients were seen in one hospital during a period of 30 months in which 103 cases of gout were documented on initial aspiration. While this is an uncommon event, the importance of being able to make a definitive diagnosis of gout is such that re-aspiration of the same or other joints may be justified under certain circumstances.