Objectives: Imaging and pathology studies have established a close relationship between tophus and bone erosion in gout. The tophus is an organized structure consisting of urate crystals and chronic inflammatory tissue. The aim of this work was to examine the relationship between bone erosion and each component of the tophus.
Methods: Plain radiographs and dual energy CT scans of the feet were prospectively obtained from 92 people with tophaceous gout. The 10 MTP joints were scored for erosion score, tophus urate and soft tissue volume. Data were analysed using generalized estimating equations and mediation analysis.
Results: Tophus was visualized in 80.2% of all joints with radiographic (XR) erosion [odds ratio (OR) = 7.1 (95% CI: 4.8, 10.6)] and urate was visualized in 78.6% of all joints with XR erosion [OR = 6.6 (95% CI: 4.7, 9.3)]. In mediation analysis, tophus urate volume and soft tissue volume were directly associated with XR erosion score. About a third of the association of the tophus urate volume with XR erosion score was indirectly mediated through the strong association between tophus urate volume and tophus soft tissue volume.
Conclusion: Urate and soft tissue components of the tophus are strongly and independently associated with bone erosion in gout.
Keywords: computed tomography; dual energy computed tomography; erosion; gout; imaging; urate.
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