Reports From National Arthritis Meeting

Dr. Shiel Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Gout From
2004 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology

Introduction

GOUT

Gout is condition that results from crystals of uric acid depositing in tissues of the body. Gout is characterized by an overload of uric acid in the body and recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis ). Chronic gout can lead to deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints, decreased kidney function, and kidney stones.

Gout has the unique distinction of being one of the most frequently recorded medical illnesses throughout history. It is often related to an inherited abnormality in the body's ability to process uric acid. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines, which are part of many foods we eat. An abnormality in handling uric acid can cause attacks of painful arthritis (gout attack), kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure. On the other hand, some patients may only develop elevated blood uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) without having arthritis or kidney problems. The term "gout" is commonly used to refer to the painful arthritis attacks.

Gouty arthritis is usually an extremely painful attack with a rapid onset of joint inflammation. The joint inflammation is precipitated (brought on) by deposits of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid (synovial fluid) and joint lining (synovial lining). Intense joint inflammation occurs as white blood cells engulf the uric acid crystals and release chemicals of inflammation , thereby causing pain, heat, and redness of the joint tissues.