[Gout management: an update]

Barbara Ankli, Stephan Krähenbühl
Therapeutische Umschau. Revue Thérapeutique 2016, 73 (3): 115-24
Gout is the most frequent arthritis worldwide. Despite progress in therapeutic options the majority of gout patients are still insufficiently treated. International guidelines (ACR, EULAR, 3e initiative) clearly specify treatment targets: keep the patient flare-free and maintain a low urate serum level (< 360 µmol/l). The treat to target strategy includes therapy of flares, urate lowering treatment (ULT) and prophylaxis of flares. Evolution of gout guidelines over several years shows a broader indication for ULT, mandatory prophylaxis of flares during the initiation of ULT over several months and an earlier start of ULT in patients with flares as soon as symptoms have diminished. Colchicine is the preferred specific flare treatment, Caution has to be taken especially in patients with kidney disease, patients with hepatic dysfunction or in patients with interacting comedication. Low dose oral colchicine is nowadays the standard flare treatment. NSAIDs and prednisone are valuable alternatives. Interleukin-1 blockers offer a quick resolution of flares and may be an option in patients with chronic gout and severe kidney disease. Xanthinoxidase inhibitors (XOI) are the mainstay of ULT, with allopurinol still being the preferred XOI. The recently approved XOI febuxostat is eliminated mostly by the liver and can induce a faster lowering of urate. Uricosuric drugs such as probenecid are recommended in patients with sufficient renal function in whom the treatment goals cannot be reached with XOI. In Switzerland, only the two gout-lowering drugs allopurinol and probenecid are available, which reduces the therapeutic possibilities. Treatment success is often hampered by malcompliance. Recent guidelines stress the importance of patient education to ameliorate compliance. Comorbidities such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular and kidney disease are often found in gout patients. Patients with severe kidney disease are the most difficult to treat: the choice of antiinflammatory treatment is narrowed, ULT has to be uptitrated very carefully and patients often suffer from repeated flares. Another factor associated with treatment failure is the low physician’s adherence towards the guidelines. Therapeutic failure can lead to chronic and refractory gout (polyarticular gout, uncontrolled flare activity, chronic synovitis, destructive tophi) which makes the further management very difficult. Most gout patients are treated in primary care settings. Patients with chronic gout or at high risk for development of chronic gout (in particular patients with severe kidney disease or patients transplanted) should be additionally treated by a rheumatologist.

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