Gout can mimic the symptoms of the following conditions:
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
A proper diagnosis is therefore essential.
Diagnostic Procedures Methods & Techniques
- Physical examination and review of medical history.
- Diagnosis usually begins with a review of family medical history and a physical examination.
The presence of tophi below the skin and red shiny skin above the affected area can indicate gout.
However a more thorough medical examination is required to eliminate the other conditions listed above.
- Blood test.
- A blood test can be used to measure levels of uric acid in the blood.
This is not a reliable method for diagnosing gout.
During a gout attack blood uric acid levels can lie within the normal range.
Also, high uric acid levels don't always indicate the presence of gout.
- X-rays can be taken to show tophi crystals around the joints and under the skin.
However, X-rays of affected joints often show the joints to be normal so may not help in the diagnosis.
- A more reliable method of diagnosis uses arthrocentesis.
Using a syringe and needle a synovial fluid sample is taken from an affected joint.
The synovial fluid is analysed under a microscope.
The presence of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in the fluid indicates the presence of gout.