Diagnosis of Gout

Diagnosis of gout may involve inserting a needle into the affected joint and drawing a sample of the fluid that lubricates the joint (called synovial fluid). The fluid is then analyzed under a microscope to determine if uric acid crystals are present. To rule out joint infection, the fluid also is examined for the presence of bacteria.

Patients with gout may have elevated blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia), but this condition may not be present during an acute attack. The reason for this is that during an acute attack, uric acid is released from the bloodstream and finds its way into the joint(s). Therefore, when blood is drawn to check uric acid levels, these levels are usually normal or low.

Aspiration can be a painful procedure, so if acute gout is suspected, many physicians diagnose the condition through other signs and symptoms and prescribe short-term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Publication Review By: John J. Swierzewski, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015