A definite diagnosis of gout requires demonstration of monosodium urate crystals in synovial fluid or in tophi, which in clinical practice today seldom is done. Dual energy CT (DECT) has repeatedly been shown to be able to detect monosodium urate crystals in tissues, hence being an alternative method to synovial fluid microscopy. The vast majority of these studies were performed with CT scanners with two X-ray tubes. In the present study we aim to investigate if and at what locations DECT with rapid kilovoltage-switching source with gemstone scintillator detector (GSI) can identify MSU crystals in patients with clinically diagnosed gout. We also performed a reliability study between two independent readings.
Patients with new or established gout who had been examined with DECT GSI scanning of the feet at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal between 2015 and 2018 were identified. Their medical records were sought for gout disease characteristics using a structured protocol. Urate deposits in MTP1, MTP 2–5, ankle/midfoot joints and tendons were scored semiquantatively in both feet and presence of artifacts in nail and skin as well as beam hardening and noise were recorded. Two radiologists performed two combined readings and scoring of the images, thus consensus was reached over the scoring at each occasion (Espeland et al., BMC Med Imaging. 2013;13:4). The two readings were compared with kappa statistics.
DECT GSI could identify urate deposits in the feet of all 55 participants with gout. Deposits were identified in the MTP-joints of all subjects but were also present in ankle/midfoot joints and tendons in 96 and 75% respectively. Deposition of urate was predicted by longer disease duration (Spearman’s Rho 0.64, p < .0001) and presence of tophi (p = 0.0005). Artifacts were common and mostly found in the nails (73%), a minority displayed skin artifacts (31%) while beam hardening and noise was rare. The agreement between the two readings was good (Κ = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.61–0.71).
The validity of DECT GSI in gout is supported by the identification of urate in all patients with clinical gout and the good correlations with clinical characteristics. The occurrence of artifacts was relatively low with expected locations.