Gout Diagnosis

The first sign of gout appears with pain, swelling and redness at the base of the big toe. The next joints that are attacked most commonly by gout include the ankles and the knees,.

In order to diagnose gout, most doctors recommend a test to find the prevalence of uric acid crystals in a sample of joint fluid obtained through joint aspiration or arthrocentesis. Arthrocentesis is a common procedure that is performed under local anesthesia. The fluid is withdrawn or aspirated from the affected joint using a syringe and needle. This fluid is analyzed to find uric acid crystals and other infections. These needle-like shiny uric acid crystals are viewed under a special polarized microscope post which gout is declared.

Gout can also be diagnosed by viewing uric acid crystals obtained from the fluid-like substance of the tophi nodules and bursitis fluid. Rheumatologists specialize in this field and are highly trained to diagnose gout.

X-rays can also be quite helpful in revealing tophi crystals and any damage to the bone due to the recurrent bouts of inflammation as well as in monitoring the effects of chronic gout on the joints.

Often, patients who have a classic history and/or symptoms of gout are presumed to have gout without undergoing the arthrocentesis procedure. However, it is highly recommended that gout be diagnosed properly to initiate treatment since there is a host of other conditions that mimic the same symptoms as gout including pseudogout - a different type of crystal-induced arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and joint infection.