Evolving Role of Dual-Energy CT in the Clinical Workup of Gout: A Retrospective Study

Francis I. Baffour, Andrea Ferrero, Gregory A. Aird, Garret M. Powell, Mark C. Adkins, Delamo I. Bekele, Matthew P. Johnson, Joel G. Fletcher, Katrina N. Glazebrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. Dual-energy CT (DECT) allows noninvasive detection of monosodium urate (MSU) crystal deposits and has become incorporated into the routine clinical evaluation for gout at many institutions over the past decade. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to compare two time periods over the past decade in terms of radiologists' interpretations of DECT examinations performed for the evaluation of gout and subsequent clinical actions. METHODS. This retrospective study included 100 consecutive adult patients who underwent DECT to evaluate for gout in each of two periods (one beginning in March 2013 and one beginning in September 2019). Examinations performed in 2013 were conducted using a second-generation DECT scanner (80 kV [tube A] and 140 kV [tube B] with a 0.4-mm tin filter), and those performed in 2019 were conducted using a third-generation DECT scanner (80 kV [tube A] and 150 kV [tube B] with a 0.6-mm tin filter) that provides improved spectral separation. Original DECT reports were classified as positive, negative, or equivocal for MSU crystals indicative of gout. Joint aspirations occurring after the DECT examinations were recorded on the basis of findings from medical record review. A single radiologist performed a post hoc retrospective blinded image review, classifying examinations as positive, negative, or equivocal. RESULTS. In 2013, 44.0% of DECT examinations were interpreted as positive, 23.0% as negative, and 33.0% as equivocal; in 2019, 37.0% were interpreted as positive, 47.0% as negative, and 16.0% as equivocal (p < .001). The frequency of joint aspiration after DECT was 14.0% in 2013 versus 2.0% in 2019 (p = .002), and that after DECT examinations with negative interpretations was 17.4% in 2013 versus 2.1% in 2019 (p = .02). In post hoc assessment by a single radiologist, the distribution of interpretations in 2013 was positive in 49.0%, negative in 22.0%, and equivocal in 29.0%, and in 2019 it was positive in 39.0%, negative in 50.0%, and equivocal in 11.0% (p < .001). CONCLUSION. When DECT examinations performed for gout in 2013 and 2019 were compared, the frequency of equivocal interpretations was significantly lower in 2019, possibly in relation to interval technologic improvements. Negative examinations were less frequently followed by joint aspirations in 2019, possibly reflecting increasing clinical acceptance of the DECT results. CLINICAL IMPACT. The findings indicate an evolving role for DECT in the evaluation of gout after an institution's routine adoption of the technology for this purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1050
Number of pages10
JournalAJR. American journal of roentgenology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • dual-energy CT
  • gout
  • monosodium urate crystal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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