Some doctors with adequate experience in arthritis are usually able to diagnose gout by examining the symptoms that appear, especially for cases at advanced stage. However, in the first attack of gout, several tests can be used to help make a diagnosis. One of these tests may include a blood test. Does it work accurately?
Normally, the healthy joints only have small amounts of fluid. This fluid is essential for lubricant so thus the joint can move smoothly. But if the joint is injured, inflamed, or affected by arthritis such as gout, there usually will be more fluid found around the joint.
How to do joint fluid test?
To perform this procedure, you don’t need to stay at hospital Even it can be done in the office of your doctor.
Depending on where the location of joint that will be examined, you may be asked to change your clothes with a hospital gown. On average, the procedure can take about 20 minutes.
Your doctor will determine the right position of where the needle should be inserted. An antiseptic solution can be used to clean the skin around the joint. The use of sedative may be used, too – especially for young patient.
How does it work?
Currently, joint fluid test is used for one of the main tests to help diagnose gout.
In this test, your doctor will take a sample of fluid in the affected joint. This fluid then will be analyzed in a lab (under special microscope) to find problems such as bleeding, inflammation, infection, or gout.
To draw fluid, the use of needle is a common choice, as noted before. A needle will be slowly inserted into the area of joint. It’s equipped with a syringe to remove and take a sample of fluid from the joint.
If you have gout, the fluid sample usually contains some urate crystals (deposits of uric acid).
To reduce the risk of bruising and swelling after the test, a bandage (tight) will be placed over the area where the needle was inserted. If necessary, your doctor may also use an elastic bandage and put it around the joint.
What you should prepare before taking the test?
If you are taking certain medicines or have specific health condition, make sure your doctor knows. These particularly true if you:
- Taking medicines that can make blood clotting slow down such as NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medicine), or have specific bleeding problem.
- Taking aspirin.
- You suspect that you are being pregnant.
- Or if you have an allergic reaction to certain medicine, such as anesthetics.
As well we know, the elevated levels of blood uric acid are the starting point for gouty arthritis to occur, particularly for people who have tendency to have gout. For this reason, sometime the use of blood test is required to help diagnose gout.
See also how gouty arthritis occurs and how it develops from early stage to advanced stage in this section!
So the major goal of this test is to find the existence of high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Why you need to take this test?
It is not only used to help diagnose gout. Other purposes include:
- The excess uric acids can accumulate in certain sites, and joints are not the single destination. They may also accumulate in the urinary tracts, increasing the risk of kidney stones. Sometime doctor may use uric acid blood test to check whether or not a kidney stone problem is related to the high body’s uric acid.
- To help analyze whether certain medicine works effectively in lowing uric acid level.
- To check uric acid level in patients who are undergoing some treatments (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy) for cancer.
Preparations before taking the test
There is no specific preparation you need to do before you have this test. However, some medicines may affect the result of the test. For this reason, it’s recommended to tell any medicine that you are taking or you have taken recently to your doctor!
Consult to your doctor about the side effects from the test and how to eliminate these risks, too! Though it is commonly safe for most people, there are some possible side effects, these include:
- Small bruise, especially at the site where the needle was inserted.
- Phlebitis, a condition of when the vein becomes swollen after the sample of blood is taken.
- Clotting or bleeding problems. This risk is higher for those who take aspirin or other blood thinning medicines, or if you have certain bleeding disorder.
Higher than normal levels of uric acid in the bloodstream are called hyperuricemia. When the goal is just to measure the amount of your uric acid level, blood test works accurately!
But when it comes to diagnose gout, the result of blood test is not the single parameter. In fact, not all people with high uric acid develop gouty arthritis.