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chronic wounds, foot ulcers, gout, tophaceous gout, tophi, urate crystals in wounds



  1. Lam, Gretl BA
  2. Ross, Frank L. MD
  3. Chiu, Ernest S. MD


GENERAL PURPOSE: To provide information from a review of the literature about chronic ulcers associated with tophaceous gout.


TARGET AUDIENCE: This continuing education activity is intended for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses with an interest in skin and wound care.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES/OUTCOMES: After participating in this educational activity, the participant should be better able to:


1. Identify the pathophysiology of tophaceous gout, its presentation, phases, and common comorbidities.


2. Evaluate the findings in this review regarding effectiveness of interventions for chronic tophaceous ulcers.


ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Treating chronic ulcers associated with tophaceous gout is an uncommon but important clinical challenge. However, treatments vary greatly from topical therapies, to debridements, to free flap wound coverage. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to assemble and compare these different approaches in order to guide effective treatment.


DATA SOURCES:An electronic search of MEDLINE (PubMed) was conducted. Search terms included (gout and ulcer) not "peptic ulcer," and (gout, chronic wound) or (gout, nonhealing wound).


STUDY SELECTION: Studies that discussed the presentation, characterization, or treatment of gout-associated wounds were included. The literature search yielded 9 case reports and case series; there were no randomized controlled studies or reviews.


DATA EXTRACTION: Patient and wound characteristics, treatment approaches, and outcomes were noted.


DATA SYNTHESIS: The 82% of 22 patients were male, aged 36 to 95 years. Three patients had not been previously diagnosed with gout, whereas others had received a diagnosis 2 to 35 years prior to presentation with an ulcer. Many patients had comorbidities including diabetes and peripheral vascular disease. Most of the 43 total ulcers occurred on the feet. Treatments included topical 3% citric acid in petroleum jelly, allogeneic culture dermal substitute, silver-containing dressing and heterologous lyophilized collagen, debridements, and free flap coverage.


CONCLUSIONS: Chronic tophaceous wounds are a worldwide problem. Although physicians report some successes with different treatments, controlled studies are needed to determine the most effective approach and to identify risk factors and preventive strategies.