From a gout perspective, what are tophi?

Defining tophi in the context of gout

Tophi is a step up for the worse in the world of gout as it is a rife accumulation of uric acid crystals, enough to break through the skin and cause malformation.

Those not in the know may ask the question “what is tophi?” which is grammatically incorrect. Tophi is in plural form—that of the word tophus, derived from the Latin word tophos, which is a porous volcanic stone. In the context of gout, a tophus may also be referred to as tophaceous gout.

Anyone who has reached the point of tophi formation has had a longstanding, uncontrolled bout with high levels of uric acid for years. They are known on average to develop ten years after the onset of gout. However, recorded cases prove they can develop anywhere from three years, earliest, to forty-two years, latest.

As opposed to gout, tophi do not only form around joints. They have been seen on cartilages and bones, and in rare cases even in the kidneys and the nasal cartilage. Another rather interesting contrast with gout is that tophi is more common among women. Also, depending on where they form, tophi can be anywhere from harmless to critical, sometimes deeming a joint or an organ unusable.

Treating tophi follows the same principles as with gout. By lowering uric acid levels, a tophus will eventually dissolve itself. But, we’ll reserve that for another post. For now we hope we’ve defined tophi in rather easy-to-digest manner for the gout-concerned citizen.

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