Casebook consults: improving outcomes in gout (multimedia activity)

Paul P Doghramji, Brian F Mandell, Richard S Pope
American Journal of Medicine 2012, 125 (8): S1
Gout is a chronic, potentially debilitating condition characterized by an inflammatory process in the joints or periarticular tissues that results from the deposition of monosodium urate crystals. Underdiagnosis and undertreatment can lead to the development of tophi and chronic arthropathy. A presumptive diagnosis of gout can be made on the basis of the clinical presentation as well as risk factors such as metabolic syndrome. Key conditions to rule out in the differential diagnosis are septic arthritis, calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (pseudogout), fracture, and rheumatoid arthritis. Acute flares of gout should be managed with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine, or corticosteroids. With a diagnosis of gout, if urate-lowering therapy (ULT) is required, prophylaxis should be considered with low-dose colchicine or an NSAID, followed by the addition of ULT. The goal of ULT is to reach a serum uric acid (SUA) level ≤6.0 mg/dL. Measurements of SUA should be obtained after resolution of an acute attack, then periodically to facilitate titration of the ULT dose to achieve the target SUA level. Studies have confirmed significant reductions in gout attacks among patients who have attained SUA levels ≤6.0 mg/dL with ULT. Patient education concerning the disease and its treatment is essential to ensure close adherence with recommended therapies. Patients should also understand that ULT is intended as long-term, and for most patients, lifelong therapy to maximize the prospects for control of the disease. Clinicians should feel confident in making a presumptive diagnosis and choosing a therapeutic regimen for gout while effectively communicating with and educating patients about their disease.

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