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Joint and tendon subclinical involvement suggestive of gouty arthritis in asymptomatic hyperuricemia: an ultrasound controlled study

Arthritis Research & Therapy
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/ar3223
  • Research Article


Introduction In this study, we aimed to investigate ultrasonographic (US) changes suggestive of gouty arthritis in the hyaline cartilage, joints and tendons from asymptomatic individuals with hyperuricemia. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional, controlled study including US examinations of the knees and first metatarsal-phalangeal joints (first MTPJs), as well as of the tendons and enthesis of the lower limbs. Differences were estimated by χ2 or unpaired t-tests as appropriate. Associations were calculated using the Spearman's correlation coefficient rank test. Results Fifty asymptomatic individuals with hyperuricemia and 52 normouricemic subjects were included. Hyperechoic enhancement of the superficial margin of the hyaline cartilage (double contour sign) was found in 25% of the first MTPJs from hyperuricemic individuals, in contrast to none in the control group (P < 0.0001). Similar results were found on the femoral cartilage (17% versus 0; P < 0.0001). Patellar enthesopathy (12% versus 2.9%; P = 0.01) and tophi (6% versus 0; P = 0.01) as well as Achilles enthesopathy (15% versus 1.9%; P = 0.0007) were more frequent in hyperuricemic than in normouricemic individuals. Intra-articular tophi were found in eight hyperuricemic individuals but in none of the normouricemic subjects (P = 0.003). Conclusions These data demonstrate that morphostructural changes suggestive of gouty arthritis induced by chronic hyperuricemia frequently occur in both intra- and extra-articular structures of clinically asymptomatic individuals.

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