The efficacy and safety of treatments for acute gout: results from a series of systematic literature reviews including Cochrane reviews on intraarticular glucocorticoids, colchicine, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and interleukin-1 inhibitors

J Rheumatol Suppl. 2014 Sep:92:15-25. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.140458.


Objective: To determine the efficacy and safety of glucocorticoids (GC), colchicine, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAID), interleukin-1 (IL-1) inhibitors, and paracetamol to treat acute gout.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to September 2011. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) or quasi-RCT in adults with acute gout that compared GC, colchicine, NSAID, IL-1 inhibitors, and paracetamol to no treatment, placebo, another intervention, or combination therapy were included. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Primary endpoints were pain and adverse events. Data were pooled where appropriate.

Results: Twenty-six trials evaluating GC (N = 5), NSAID (N = 21), colchicine (N = 2), and canakinumab (N = 1) were included. No RCT assessed paracetamol or intraarticular (IA) GC. No RCT compared systemic GC with placebo. Moderate quality evidence (3 trials) concluded that systemic GC were as effective as NSAID but safer. Low quality evidence (1 trial) showed that both high- and low-dose colchicine were more effective than placebo, and low-dose colchicine was no different to placebo with respect to safety but safer than high-dose colchicine. Low quality evidence (1 trial) showed no difference between NSAID and placebo with regard to pain or inflammation. No NSAID was superior to another. Moderate quality evidence (1 trial) found that 150 mg canakinumab was more effective than a single dose of intramuscular GC (40 mg triamcinolone) and equally safe.

Conclusion: GC, NSAID, low-dose colchicine, and canakinumab all effectively treat acute gout. There was insufficient evidence to rank them. Systemic GC appeared safer than NSAID and lower-dose colchicine was safer than higher-dose colchicine.


Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Colchicine / administration & dosage
  • Colchicine / adverse effects
  • Colchicine / therapeutic use*
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Gout / drug therapy*
  • Gout Suppressants / administration & dosage
  • Gout Suppressants / adverse effects
  • Gout Suppressants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Gout Suppressants
  • Interleukin-1
  • Colchicine