Lupus Diagnosis

What does your doctor recommend for lupus diagnosis?

A lasting and complex disease like lupus SLE is often difficult to diagnose. It’s not easy to diagnose lupus; a series of tests are needed to find out if an individual has lupus or not. One thing that complicates this disease is the fact that a number of lupus symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. These symptoms may appear and then disappear in weeks and even months. There maybe cases when several years of lupus diagnosis is done before any findings are accomplished.

A doctor diagnosing lupus must find physical symptoms or laboratory evidence of the illness. Examples of these symptoms are joints swelling, presence of protein in the urine, accumulation of fluid around the lungs or heart, or a skin biopsy to indicate evidence of the disease.

The doctor should also consider the medical history of the patient as well as special tests to rule out other diseases.

Eleven Criteria for Diagnosis

Doctors usually refer to eleven criteria when deciding to exclude or confirm lupus diagnosis. If you score four or more of the following criteria, indicates  systemic lupus diagnosis. The eleven criteria are:

  1. Raised red patches
  2. Malar rash or butterfly-shaped rashes that manifest on the cheeks and nose
  3. A skin rash as result of unusual reaction to sunlight
  4. Painless mouth or nose ulcers
  5. Nonerosive arthritis accompanied with tenderness, swelling, or effusion. The bones around the joints cannot be destroyed when referring to nonerosive arthritis
  6. Inflammation of the lining around the heart (pericarditis) and/or lungs (pleuritis)
  7. A positive test in the absence of drugs known to induce it.
  8. Seizures and/or psychosis
  9. Excessive protein in the urine, or cellular casts in the urine
  10. Hemolytic anemia, low white blood cell count, or low platelet count
  11. Antibodies to double stranded DNA, antibodies to Sm, or antibodies to cardiolipin

Laboratory Tests

A person showing signs of lupus together with a positive ANA test result may not require additional examination. The following test or tests should be performed when the doctor sees it right for further testing to support lupus diagnosis:

  • Complete blood count or CBC
  • Urinalysis
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate) or C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Antibody blood tests
  • Complement test
  • Lupus anticoagulant test or thromboplastin time test

Tests that are part of the continuing treatment for lupus SLE include kidney biopsy that is performed if your doctor sees signs of kidney inflammation as well as urinalysis. Kidney biopsy may help the doctor to decide on the best treatment for the patient. Only few people with lupus need a kidney biopsy.

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