Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis in an elderly population, and can be diagnosed with absolute certainty by polarization microscopy. However, diagnosis may be challenging because atypical presentations are more common in the elderly. Management of hyperuricemia in the elderly with gout requires special consideration because of co-medication, contra-indications, and risk of adverse reactions. Urate-lowering agents include allopurinol and uricosuric agents. These also must be used sensibly in the elderly, especially when renal function impairment is present. However, if used at the lowest dose that maintains the serum urate level below 5.0 to 6.0 mg/dL (0.30 to 0.36 mmol/L), the excess urate in the body will eventually be eliminated, acute flares will no longer occur, and tophi will resolve. Febuxostat, a new xanthine oxidase inhibitor, is welcomed, as few alternatives for allopurinol are available. Its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are not significantly altered in patients with moderate renal function or hepatic impairment. Its antihyperuricemic efficacy at 80 to 120 mg/day is better than "standard dosage" allopurinol (300 mg/day). Long-term safety data and efficacy data on tophus diminishment and reduction of gout flares have recently become available. Febuxostat may provide an important option in patients unable to use allopurinol, or refractory to allopurinol.
Keywords: aging; febuxostat; gout; hyperuricemia; pharmacotherapy; xanthine oxidase.