Treatment Guideline Chart
Gout is a condition that resulted from deposition of monosodium urate crystals in various tissues (eg joints, connective tissue, kidney).
The patient experiences acute and chronic arthritis, soft tissue inflammation, tophus formation, gouty nephropathy and nephrolithiasis.
Primary hyperuricemia occurs when uric acid saturation arises without coexisting diseases or drugs that alter uric acid production or excretion, while secondary hyperuricemia is a condition where excessive uric acid production or diminished renal clearance occurs as a result of a disease, drug, dietary product or toxin. 

Gout Diagnosis


EULAR Recommendations for the Diagnosis of Gout

  • Presence of hyperuricemia alone is not diagnostic of gout
  • Look for crystals in the synovial fluid or tophus aspirates in suspected gout patients as presence of monosodium citrate is a definitive diagnosis of gout
    • In patients with undiagnosed inflammatory arthritis, it is recommended to have synovial fluid aspiration and crystals examination
  • In any acute arthritis in an adult, gout should be considered in the diagnosis
  • In patients with uncertain clinical diagnosis of gout and identification of crystal is not possible, patients should be investigated by imaging to search for monosodium urate crystal deposition and features of any alternative diagnosis
  • Search for imaging evidence of monosodium urate by the use of plain radiographs
    • Ultrasound scanning is used to establish gout diagnosis in patients with suspected gout flare or chronic gouty arthritis
  • Risk factors for chronic hyperuricemia should be investigated in patients with gout
  • It is recommended to have a systematic assessment of associated comorbidities in patients with gout

Diagnostic Rule for Gout in the Primary Care Setting

  • Likelihood of gout can be estimated in the primary care setting without joint fluid analysis using the following variables: 
    • Symptom onset within 24 hours (0.5 points), joint redness (1 point), hypertension or at least 1 cardiovascular disease (CVD) (1.5 points), male gender (2 points), prior patient-reported arthritis (2 points), involvement of 1st metatarsophalangeal joint (2.5 points), serum urate level >5.88 mg/dL (>350 micromol/L) (3.5 points)
    • Probability of gout is low at ≤4 points, intermediate at 5-7 points, or high at ≥8 points; joint fluid analysis may be done in patients in the intermediate group


Gout Classification Criteria1

  • Developed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) in 2015
  • Based on the presence of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals, imaging modalities, and clinical parameters
  • Provides a scoring system for a patient’s symptomatic episode, regardless of the clinical phase
  • A total score of ≥8 confirms the diagnosis of gout
  • Entry criterion is defined as at least 1 episode of swelling, pain, or tenderness in a peripheral joint or bursa
  • Sufficient criterion should be considered with the presence of urate crystals in a symptomatic joint or bursa, or a positively-identified tophus
  • The classification criteria should be used if sufficient criterion is not met
Criteria Categories Score
Clinical Parameters (Per Symptomatic Episode)
Pattern of joint or bursa involvement Ankle or midfoot
1st metatarsophalangeal joint
   Erythema overlying affected joint
   Unable to tolerate touch or pressure on the affected joint
   Difficulty with walking or unable to use affected joint

1 characteristic
2 characteristics
3 characteristics

Time course: Presence of ≥2 of the following regardless of anti-inflammatory treatment:
   Time to maximal pain <24 hours
   Resolution of symptoms happen in ≤14 days
   Complete resolution between symptomatic episodes

1 typical episode
Recurrent typical episodes

Clinical evidence of tophus2 Present 4
Laboratory Parameters
Serum urate3,4 <4 mg/dL (<0.24 mmol/L)
6-<8 mg/dL (0.36-<0.48 mmol/L)
8-<10 mg/dL (0.48-<0.60 mmol/L)
≥10 mg/dL (≥0.60 mmol/L)
Synovial fluid analysis per symptomatic episode Monosodium urate monohydrate negative -2
Radiologic Parameters5
Evidence of urate deposition: Double-contour sign seen with ultrasound or urate deposition seen by dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) Present 4
Evidence of gout-related joint damage: At least 1 erosion seen using conventional radiography of the hands and/or feet Present 4
1Reference: Neogi T, Jansen TL, Dalbeth N, et al. 2015 Gout classification criteria: an American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism collaborative initiative. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 Oct;67(10):2557-2568.
2Tophus characterized as a draining or chalk-like subcutaneous nodule under transparent skin, often with overlying vascularity, usually located in joints, ears, olecranon bursae, finger pads, and/or tendons.
3Obtained using the uricase method; scoring should be done while the patient is not taking urate-lowering drugs and >4 weeks have passed since the occurrence of symptoms.
4For serum urate results of >4-<6 mg/dL (>0.24-<0.36 mmol/L), score to be given is 0.
5A score of 0 is given if imaging modalities are unavailable.

Laboratory Tests

  • Specific investigations for confirmation of gouty arthritis include the following:

Synovial Fluid Analysis

  • Demonstration of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals in synovial fluid or tophus aspirates gives a definitive diagnosis of gout
    • Monosodium urate crystals are needle-shaped and they exhibit strong birefringence under polarized light
  • It is recommended to search for monosodium urate crystals in all synovial fluid samples obtained from undiagnosed inflamed joints
  • Identification of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals from asymptomatic joints may allow definite diagnosis in intercritical periods wherein patients are free of symptoms

Serum Urate Levels

  • Hyperuricemia defined as serum urate level >6.8 mg/dL (>0.40 mmol/L)
    • Definition of hyperuricemia may vary between countries
  • Although hyperuricemia is the most important risk factor for gout, presence of it alone is not diagnostic of gout
    • Many patients with hyperuricemia do not develop gout
    • During acute attacks, serum urate levels may be normal in about 10% of cases
  • It will be best to measure serum urate levels 2-3 weeks after an attack

Additional Laboratory Exams to Detect the Presence of Associated Comorbidities in Patients with Gout 

  • Upon detection of associated risk factors and comorbidities, the following should be addressed as an important part of the management of gout:
    • Complete blood count to exclude infection, lymphoproliferative or myeloproliferative disorders
    • Serum creatinine/urea to exclude renal disease leading to hyperuricemia or to detect renal disease secondary to urate nephropathy or nephrolithiasis
    • Blood glucose to detect the presence of diabetes/insulin resistance
    • Lipid profile to detect hypertriglyceridemia and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
    • Urinalysis showing presence of blood and/or protein may suggest renal disorders


Plain Radiography/Skeletal X-ray

  • Usually normal in acute gouty arthritis, although there may be reversible soft tissue swelling around the involved joint
  • In chronic tophaceous gout, typical radiographic findings include erosions with sclerotic margins and overhanging edges of bones or calcification in some tophi
    • Presence of a thin, overhanging, calcified edge is highly suggestive of gout
    • Joint space is usually preserved until late stages of the disease

Ultrasonography (US)

  • Can detect crystals deposited on cartilaginous surfaces as well as tophaceous material and typical erosions
    • Monosodium urate monohydrate crystals may appear as “double contour sign” meaning there are deposits on superficial articular cartilage or as “snow storm appearance” denoting presence wtihin the synovial fluid of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals

Dual-Energy Computed Tomography (DECT)

  • Allows visualization of tophi or urate deposits in articular and periarticular locations and can distinguish urate from calcium deposition

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Findings are not specific for the diagnosis of gout but allow early detection of tophi and bone erosion
  • Method of determining the extent of disease in tophaceous gout and may provide information regarding the patterns of deposition and spread of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals
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