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What are the Different Kinds of Blood Tests for Lupus?

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  • Written By: Sarah Kay Moll
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Lupus is a disease of the immune system that happens when the body attacks its own tissues and organs. There are several blood tests for lupus, such as a blood cell count, a erythrocyte sedimentation rate test, a test for syphilis or an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. Typically, a complete blood count (CBC) test is the first test ordered.

In a complete blood count test, a laboratory technician counts the number of blood cells in a sample. The technician measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. If the red blood cell number is low, it could indicate anemia, which is a common lupus symptom.

If the complete blood count result is low, a doctor usually will order other blood tests for lupus. A erythrocyte sedimentation rate test can reveal inflammation in the body. In this test, a technician measures how long it takes for blood cells to settle at the bottom of a test tube. A faster-than-normal rate can indicate any of several diseases, including lupus.

Lupus often will cause a syphilis test to return a false positive. This is caused by the presence of anti-phospholipid antibodies in the blood. These anti-phospholipid antibodies are a sign of lupus, and they can increase the risk of severe complications, such as blood clots and strokes.

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An antinuclear antibody test, another one of the blood tests for lupus, looks for antibodies, which are produced by the immune system. If they are present, then the immune system has been active, which can be a symptom of lupus. These antibodies also can be present as a result of an infection or certain medications, so a positive result on this test could indicate lupus, or it could be caused by other factors.

Clotting tests are among the other types of blood tests for lupus. A clotting test measures how fast the blood clots at the site of a wound. A doctor also might order lupus urine tests, which measure kidney functioning. Lupus can damage the kidneys without causing any symptoms, so it is important for their condition to be checked.

There are a number of blood tests for lupus because it is a difficult disease to diagnose. Lupus develops slowly, so it can be difficult to put together all of the symptoms that appear over a long period of time. There is no single definitive blood test for lupus, and many of the lupus blood tests can indicate other conditions as well.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@SarahGen-- I've asked my doctor this and he said that only 5% of those with systemic lupus will get a false negative ANA result. So the chances of that happening are low.

Are your other blood tests results normal? If your blood cell counts and platelet counts are normal, you most likely do not have lupus. When I was diagnosed, my blood tests showed low red blood cell count.

ZipLine
Post 2

@SarahGen-- I'm not an expert and I think it's a good idea to direct this question to a doctor. However, I don't think that the ANA is 100% reliable in the diagnosis of lupus. I say this because my first ANA came back negative and the second one came back positive. Meanwhile, I had symptoms of lupus during both times. So I think that there are different factors that play into the results of the test. I think it's possible to have lupus and still get a negative ANA. But like I said, I'm not an expert so I may be wrong.

Most doctors will run multiple tests when checking for lupus. So I don't think a doctor will rule out lupus only because of the ANA. If your other blood test results are off and if you have the major symptoms of lupus, then you will be diagnosed as such.

SarahGen
Post 1

Can anyone tell me how reliable the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is for the diagnosis of lupus?

I had the test and it came back as a negative. My doctor has ruled out lupus for this reason but all of my symptoms point towards lupus. I'm just wondering if anyone here has been diagnosed with lupus despite a negative ANA blood test result?

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