Most calcium pyrophosphate crystals appear as non-birefringent.Ann Rheum Dis. 1999 Sep; 58(9):582-4.AR
To determine the proportion of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystals that appear as non-birefringent when observed under the polarised light microscope.
Two observers examined independently 10 synovial fluid samples obtained during an episode of arthritis attributable to CPPD crystals. Ten synovial fluid samples from patients with acute gout were used as a reference. The examination was performed after placing a fluid sample in a Niebauer haemocytometric chamber; a crystal count was done first under ordinary light, then in the area corresponding to a 0.1 ml, under polarised light
The percentages of birefringence appreciated for CPPD were 18% (confidence intervals (CI) 12, 24) for observer 1, and 17% (CI 10, 24) for observer 2 (difference NS). The percentages of birefringence for monosodium urate were 127% (CI 103, 151) for observer 1 and 107% (CI 100, 114) for observer 2 (difference NS). Percentages above 100% indicate that crystals missed under ordinary light became apparent under polarised light.
Only about one fifth of all CPPD crystals identified by bright field microscopy show birefringence when the same synovial fluid sample is observed under polarised light. If a search for CPPD crystals is conducted under polarised light, the majority of the crystals will be missed. Ordinary light allows a better rate of CPPD crystal detection but observation under polarised light of crystals showing birefringence is required for definitive CPPD crystal identification.