Imaging in gout: insights into the pathological features of disease

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2012 Mar;24(2):132-8. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32834ff5b1.


Purpose of review: Imaging has the potential to assess various pathological manifestations of gout, including monosodium urate (MSU) crystal deposition, tophus formation and cartilage, soft tissue, and bone pathology. This review discusses recent research examining the role of imaging to assess the manifestations of disease.

Recent findings: Various imaging techniques are used in the assessment of gout, including plain radiography, ultrasonography, conventional computed tomography (CT), dual energy computed tomography (DECT), and MRI. Potential roles for ultrasonography are MSU crystal detection, measurement of tophi, and assessment of disease complications. Ultrasonography may allow detection of MSU crystals in patients with hyperuricaemia, prior to development of clinically apparent gout. Conventional CT allows excellent visualization of tophi and bone erosion. DECT is a promising method of noninvasive MSU crystal detection. MRI allows assessment of tophi, synovial and soft tissue disease, and bone pathology. The relative absence of MRI bone marrow oedema in gout suggests that the mechanisms of bone erosion in gout are quite different from those in other erosive arthropathies.

Summary: Imaging modalities have provided important insights into the pathology of gout. The role of various imaging techniques in gout diagnosis, monitoring, and prediction of outcome is rapidly developing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Gout / diagnosis*
  • Gout / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonography