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Lupus tests

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Testing for Lupus can be somewhat difficult. There are no definitive test for diagnosing Lupus. Many of the symptoms and laboratory test results of Lupus patients are similar to those of patients with different diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and various nervous system and blood disorders.
 
 

Tests used in lupus tests

  • antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel including anti-DNA and anti-Smith antibodies, with the latter two tests generally positive in lupus alone
  • characteristic skin rash or lesions
  • chest X-ray showing pleuritis or pericarditis
  • listening to the chest with a stethoscope to reveal heart friction rub or pleural friction rub
  • urinalysis to show blood, casts, or protein in the urine
  • CBC showing a decrease in some cell types
  • kidney biopsy
  • neurological examination

Other tests that may be used for a lupus diagnosis

  • WBC count
  • serum globulin electrophoresis
  • rheumatoid factor
  • protein, urine
  • protein electrophoresis - serum
  • mononucleosis spot test
  • ESR
  • cryoglobulins
  • Coombs' test, direct
  • complement component 3 (C3)
  • complement
  • antithyroid microsomal antibody
  • antithyroglobulin antibody
  • antimitochondrial antibody
  • anti-smooth muscle antibody

Lupus tests - Laboratory tests

Laboratory tests that are helpful in diagnosing Lupus include several tests for a variety of antibodies commonly elevated in Lupus patients (including antinuclear antibodies, anti-DNA antibodies, etc.). Lupus patients tend to have low numbers of red blood cells (anemia) and low numbers of certain types of white blood cells. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a measure of inflammation in the body, tends to be quite elevated. Samples of tissue (biopsies) from affected skin and kidneys show characteristics of the disease.

A test called the lupus erythematosus cell preparation (or LE prep) test is also performed. This test involves obtaining a sample of the patient's blood. Cells from the blood are damaged in the laboratory in order to harvest their nuclei. These damaged cells are then put together with the patient's blood serum, the liquid part of blood separated from the blood cells. Antinuclear antibodies within the patient's serum will clump together with the damaged nuclear material. A material called Wright's stain will cause these clumps to turn blue. These stained clumps are then reacted with some of the patient's white blood cells, which will essentially eat the clumps. LE cells are the white blood cells that contain the blue clumps. This test will be positive in about 70-80% of all patients with Lupus.

Lupus tests by evaluation of symptoms

The American Rheumatism Association developed a list of symptoms used to diagnose Lupus. Research supports the idea that people who have at least four of the eleven criteria (not necessarily simultaneously) are extremely likely to have Lupus. The criteria are:

  • Butterfly rash
  • Discoid rash
  • Photosensitivity
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs or the lining around the heart
  • Kidney damage, as noted by the presence of protein or other abnormal substances called casts in the urine
  • Seizures or psychosis
  • The presence of certain types of anemia and low counts of particular white blood cells
  • The presence of certain immune cells, anti-DNA antibodies, or a falsely positive test for syphilis
  • The presence of antinuclear antibodies.

More Information about Lupus

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Lupus tests

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 Butterfly Rash Picture

Lupus Skin Picture
 

 

 

   

   

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Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis.

Arthritis-Symptom.com is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

Where we get our information.

Most of the information in the site is compiled by editors from information provided by the National Institutes of Health. We are in the process of updating our pages. In the past we have not made reference to the source for information provide by our editors. In the next few weeks we hope to have all our pages marked as to the source.

We have included information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Pages that uses information from this source are so acknowledged.

We have contributing authors that send information. Where information is provided by an outside author it is acknowledged by a byline under the title.

Updates of Pages.

Not all of our pages have a date as to the last update. We are in the processes of reviewing all our pages and as we do we include a reference as to when the page was updated. This web site was first published in January of 2003. All pages in the site were created at sometime during or after that time.