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Review

Imaging in gout - What can we learn from MRI, CT, DECT and US?

Fiona M McQueen1*, Anthony Doyle2 and Nicola Dalbeth3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

2 Department of Radiology, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland District Health Board, Grafton Road, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

3 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:246  doi:10.1186/ar3489

Published: 4 November 2011

Abstract

There are many exciting new applications for advanced imaging in gout. These modalities employ multiplanar imaging and allow computerized three-dimensional rendering of bone and joints (including tophi) and have the advantage of electronic data storage for later retrieval. High-resolution computed tomography has been particularly helpful in exploring the pathology of gout by investigating the relationship between bone erosions and tophi. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography can image the inflammatory nature of gouty arthropathy, revealing synovial and soft tissue inflammation, and can provide information about the composition and vascularity of tophi. Dual-energy computerized tomography is a new modality that is able to identify tophi by their chemical composition and reveal even small occult tophaceous deposits. All modalities are being investigated for their potential roles in diagnosis and could have important clinical applications in the patient for whom aspiration of monosodium urate crystals from the joint is not possible. Imaging can also provide outcome measures, such as change in tophus volume, for monitoring the response to urate-lowering therapy and this is an important application in the clinical trial setting.