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Ultrasound sensitivity to changes in gout: a longitudinal study after two years of treatment

Diana Peiteado, Alejandro Villalba, Emilio Martín-Mola, Alejandro Balsa, Eugenio De Miguel
Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2017, 35 (5): 746-751

OBJECTIVES: The goals of our study are to evaluate the urate-lowering therapy (ULT) effect on gout ultrasound (US) lesions and to explore US sensitivity to change in gout patients.

METHODS: Patients with chronic and symptomatic gout, confirmed by crystal identification, were prospectively included. Clinical and US assessments were performed at baseline and after 6, 12 and 24 months of ULT. The presence of double contour sign (DCS) and US- detectable tophi were assessed in the first metatarsophalangeals, the knees and patellar tendons. The mean and standard deviation were calculated for each parameter. The correlation between the clinical and US parameters was assessed by calculating Pearson's correlation coefficient. Sensitivity to change in the US examinations was assessed by estimating the smallest detectable difference (SDD).

RESULTS: Twenty-three consecutive patients were included (96% men; mean age 59 ± 11 years). DCS and US tophi were detected in 73.9% and 91.3% of patients at baseline. A significant parallel improvement in the serum urate, clinical parameters and US lesions was found at the follow-up assessment. The SDD values for the global DCS and tophi were 0.52 and 0.69, respectively, which were smaller than the differences achieved over the course of the two years. A significant correlation between DCS and clinical parameters was observed (r =0.49, p=0.038).

CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasound findings in gout patients show sensitivity to change and concurrent validity with uric acid reduction after ULT in gout patients. US can be a useful tool for gout tophus burden monitoring.

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