To diagnose gout, the doctor will take a patient's medical history, examine the affected joint and do a blood test. He or she will also ask about:
- Other symptoms
- What medications the patient is taking
- The patient's diet
- How quickly and intensely the gout attack came on
Details of the attack the doctor is looking for: severity of pain, length of attack and joints affected.
The doctor will need to rule out other potential causes of joint pain and inflammation such as infection, injury or another type of arthritis. He or she will take a blood test to measure the level of uric acid in your blood. A high level of uric acid in your blood doesn’t necessarily mean you have gout, just as a normal level doesn’t mean you don’t have it. Your doctor may take an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI to examine soft tissue and bone. The doctor might also remove fluid from the affected joint and examine it under a microscope for uric acid crystals. Finding uric acid crystals in the joint fluid is the surest way to make a gout diagnosis.