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Hospital joins international gout study

22 November 2012

Hospital joins international gout study

Waikato Hospital staff members are joining an international study on gout and its causes.

Rheumatologist Dr Douglas White and laboratory senior scientist Sean Munroe are leading the hospital’s involvement, which they hope will see better diagnosis and treatment of gout. The painful joint disease affects 1-2 per cent of the population.

Gout is usually characterised by attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis – a red, tender, hot, swollen joint, often in the big toe.

It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallises, and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

Mr Munroe this week said the Waikato Hospital laboratory and staff had passed a qualifying test – confirming they were up to international standard – and he expected they would start collecting samples for the study early next year.

“This really is a big study and to be involved in worldwide collaboration is quite exciting,” said Mr Munroe, who is involved in a quality control programme for other New Zealand labs. Teams from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are also involved.

He has worked in the hospital lab – a sea of gowned-up technicians, testing equipment and screens – for 10 years and has a special interest in microbiology.

“We are relishing our role in this study. It’s really good to get into studies like this – you have to have a level of expertise to be invited.”

Waikato’s role involves the study of synovial fluids taken from joints, and will include looking at genetic markers and biochemical issues.

Dr White and Mr Munroe recently had a paper published internationally on their observations of an unusual arthritic knee, and have jointly presented on synovial fluid crystals at a national meeting.

About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 372,865 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6000 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $701 million and 5238 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.


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