Diagnosis of Acute Gout: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 2017 Jan 3;166(1):52-57. doi: 10.7326/M16-0569. Epub 2016 Nov 1.


Description: The American College of Physicians (ACP) developed this guideline to present the evidence and provide clinical recommendations on the diagnosis of gout.

Methods: This guideline is based on a systematic review of published studies on gout diagnosis, identified using several databases, from database inception to February 2016. Evaluated outcomes included the accuracy of the test results; intermediate outcomes (results of laboratory and radiographic tests, such as serum urate and synovial fluid crystal analysis and radiographic or ultrasonography changes); clinical decision making (additional testing and pharmacologic or dietary management); short-term clinical (patient-centered) outcomes, such as pain and joint swelling and tenderness; and adverse effects of the tests. This guideline grades the evidence and recommendations by using the ACP grading system, which is based on the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) method.

Target audience and patient population: The target audience for this guideline includes all clinicians, and the target patient population includes adults with joint inflammation suspected to be gout.

Recommendation: ACP recommends that clinicians use synovial fluid analysis when clinical judgment indicates that diagnostic testing is necessary in patients with possible acute gout. (Grade: weak recommendation, low-quality evidence).

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Gout / classification
  • Gout / diagnosis*
  • Gout / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Synovial Fluid / chemistry
  • Uric Acid / analysis


  • Uric Acid