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Chronic tophaceous gout mimicking widespread metastasis

Abstract

Gout is a common crystal-induced arthropathy affecting mainly the joints of the appendicular skeleton; however, rarely this condition affects the axial skeleton as well. Spinal gout can cause radiculopathy, cord compression, canal stenosis and discitis. We describe a case of a 71-year-old woman where the initial presentation of destructive arthropathy and spinal masses secondary to axial gout was mistaken for a metastatic malignancy. Despite chronic polyarthropathy and bilateral subcutaneous gouty tophi, spinal gout was not considered a differential diagnosis during initial assessment.

The patient was managed conservatively with pharmacological treatment resulting in improvement of her upper limb radiculopathy and systemic joint pain, although little improvement in mobility. Such extensive involvement is rare and the masses can mimic an underlying metastatic disease. Careful history and clinical examination recognising polyarthropathy and subcutaneous tophi can aid the clinician to make the right diagnosis and institute correct treatment. Delay in recognising gout as a differential diagnosis can lead to marked morbidity as illustrated in our case.

  • musculoskeletal and joint disorders
  • metabolic disorders
  • orthopaedics
  • degenerative joint disease
  • drugs: musculoskeletal and joint diseases

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