Classification and external resources
Gout, a 1799 caricature by James Gillray
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eMedicineemerg/221 med/924 med/1112 oph/506 orthoped/124 radio/313

Gout (also known as podagra when it involves the big toe)[1] is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected (approximately 50% of cases). However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallizes, and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

Clinical diagnosis is confirmed by seeing the characteristic crystals in joint fluid. Treatment with probenecid provide long-term prevention.

Gout has increased in frequency in recent decades, affecting about 1–2% of the life expectancy and changes in diet. Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”.


Signs and symptoms

Gout presenting in the metatarsal-phalangeal joint of the big toe: Note the slight redness of the skin overlying the joint.

Gout can present in a number of ways, although the most usual is a recurrent attack of acute [3]

Long-standing elevated [5]




Dietary causes account for about 12% of gout,[13]


The occurrence of gout is partly genetic, contributing to about 60% of [6]

Medical conditions

Gout frequently occurs in combination with other medical problems. Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is often associated with gouty arthritis.




Gout is a disorder of [6]

The triggers for precipitation of uric acid are not well understood. While it may crystallize at normal levels, it is more likely to do so as levels increase.[23]


Gout on X-rays of a left foot: The typical location is the big toe joint. Note also the soft tissue swelling at the lateral border of the foot.

Spiked rods of uric acid crystals from a polarized light. Formation of uric acid crystals in the joints is associated with gout.

Gout may be diagnosed and treated without further investigations in someone with hyperuricemia and the classic podagra. Synovial fluid analysis should be done, however, if the diagnosis is in doubt.[1] X-rays, while useful for identifying chronic gout, have little utility in acute attacks.[6]

Synovial fluid

A definitive diagnosis of gout is based upon the identification of [6]

Blood tests


Differential diagnosis

The most important [30]


Both lifestyle changes and medications can decrease uric acid levels. Dietary and lifestyle choices that are effective include reducing intake of food such as meat and seafood, consuming adequate [33]


The initial aim of treatment is to settle the symptoms of an acute attack.[6]


NSAIDs are the usual first-line treatment for gout, and no specific agent is significantly more or less effective than any other.[37]








A number of medications are useful for preventing further episodes of gout, including [2]


Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (including allopurinol and [44]


Without treatment, an acute attack of gout usually resolves in five to seven days. However, 60% of people have a second attack within one year.[45]

Without treatment, episodes of acute gout may develop into chronic gout with destruction of joint surfaces, joint deformity, and painless tophi.[6]


Gout affects around 1–2% of the Western population at some point in their lifetimes, and is becoming more common.[36]

In the United States, gout is twice as likely in African American males as it is in European Americans.[48]


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek described the microscopic appearance of uric acid crystals in 1679.[49]

The word “gout” was initially used by Randolphus of Bocking, around 1200 AD. It is derived from the [50]

Gout has, however, been known since antiquity. Historically, it has been referred to as “the king of diseases and the disease of kings”Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 AD) described the linkage with alcohol, later onset in women, and associated kidney problems:

Again thick urine, the sediment from which is white, indicates that pain and disease are to be apprehended in the region of joints or viscera… Joint troubles in the hands and feet are very frequent and persistent, such as occur in cases of podagra and cheiragra. These seldom attack eunuchs or boys before coition with a woman, or women except those in whom the menses have become suppressed… some have obtained lifelong security by refraining from wine, mead and venery.[54]

In 1683, Thomas Sydenham, an English physician, described its occurrence in the early hours of the morning, and its predilection for older males:

Gouty patients are, generally, either old men, or men who have so worn themselves out in youth as to have brought on a premature old age—of such dissolute habits none being more common than the premature and excessive indulgence in venery, and the like exhausting passions. The victim goes to bed and sleeps in good health. About two o’clock in the morning he is awakened by a severe pain in the great toe; more rarely in the heel, ankle or instep. The pain is like that of a dislocation, and yet parts feel as if cold water were poured over them. Then follows chills and shivers, and a little fever… The night is passed in torture, sleeplessness, turning the part affected, and perpetual change of posture; the tossing about of body being as incessant as the pain of the tortured joint, and being worse as the fit comes on.[55]

The Dutch scientist [56]

In other animals

Gout is rare in most other animals due to their ability to produce [58]


A number of new medications are under study for treating gout, including [1]


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External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Gout , which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.