Options for Diagnosis
Most clinicians make a gout diagnosis based on the classic signs and symptoms of gout, risk factors and past and present uric acid levels. However, there are certain tests that can help to confirm the diagnosis.
Aspiration of Synovial Fluid
The gold standard for making an accurate diagnosis of gout is by aspirating (removing with a needle and syringe) a sample of synovial fluid from the inflamed joint. The fluid is examined under a microscope to check for uric acid crystals. If the crystals are present, gout can be firmly diagnosed. Sometimes aspirating synovial fluid is not practical, and the doctor will make a diagnosis of gout based on other factors including pain patterns, family history of gout and high uric acid levels.
MRIs and Ultrasounds
As technology continues to advance, many clinicians now believe that MRIs and ultrasounds can help detect the presence of tophi (crystals under the skin) in all stages of gout, helping to identify the disease earlier and in a less invasive way.
While a blood test cannot confirm a diagnosis of gout, uric acid levels are important in determining a diagnosis of gout and measuring a response to uric acid-lowering medicines.