The aim of our study was to compare the performance of ultrasonography (US) and dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) in detecting the crystal deposition at lower extremity joints in patients with gout. The correlation of imaging findings with microscopic findings was further assessed whenever aspiration is available.
We recruited consecutive patients who were presented with arthritis of lower extremity from January 2012 to December 2014. All the patients underwent DECT and US scan of bilateral knees, ankles, and feet. Synovial fluid was obtained by aspiration from an acute inflammatory joint if possible.
Finally, 60 patients fulfilling the 1977 gout classification criteria were included in our study. We found that US can detect significantly more patients with crystal deposition than DECT (81.7% vs 56.7%, by US and DECT, respectively, P < .001). The frequency of urate crystal deposition detected by US at MTP1, knee, and ankle joints regions was 56.7%, 63.3%, and 51.7%, respectively. The percentage of positivity of double contour sign on US was 33.3%, 48.3%, and 41.7% at the joints mentioned above, respectively. There was a good correlation between ultrasound and synovial fluid analysis in detecting crystal deposition (κ = 0.87, P = .001), while the agreement between DECT and synovial fluid analysis was just fair (κ = 0.28, P = .02).
The sensitivity of US in detecting urate crystal deposition in lower extremity joints was higher than DECT. The superiority was more obvious in knee and MTP1 joints. US should be considered as the first choice of image examinations when diagnosing gout.