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Use of imaging to evaluate gout and other crystal deposition disorders

Nicola Dalbeth, Fiona M McQueen
Current Opinion in Rheumatology 2009, 21 (2): 124-31

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review summarizes recent advances in plain radiography and advanced imaging for gout, calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal arthropathy and basic calcium phosphate crystal arthropathy.

RECENT FINDINGS: Plain radiography has diagnostic utility in the crystal-induced arthropathies. A gout radiographic damage index has been recently validated. High-resolution ultrasonography may improve noninvasive diagnosis of the crystal-induced arthropathies, and allow monitoring of intra-articular tophi in clinical trials. Computed tomography provides excellent definition of tophi and bone erosion, and three-dimensional computed tomography assessment of tophus volume is a promising outcome measure in gout. Magnetic resonance imaging is also a reliable method for assessment of tophus size in gout, and has an important role in detection of complications of disease in clinical practice. Emerging imaging techniques include three-dimensional ultrasonography and dual-energy computed tomography. Advanced imaging modalities also offer new insights into the mechanisms of cartilage and bone damage in the crystal-induced arthropathies.

SUMMARY: Plain radiography and advanced imaging techniques may assist with diagnosis, assessment of disease complications and monitoring of crystal-induced arthropathies. Further study of these techniques will provide significant improvement in patient care and further aid in the understanding of disease pathogenesis.

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