While no single test can determine whether a person has lupus, several laboratory tests may help the doctor confirm a diagnosis, or at least rule out other ailments. The most useful tests identify certain autoantibodies that are often present in the blood of lupus patients. A biopsy of the skin or kidneys may also be ordered if those organs are affected. The doctor will look at the entire picture – medical history, symptoms, and test results – to determine if you have lupus. Other laboratory tests are used to monitor the progress of the disease once it has been diagnosed.
Eleven Criteria of Lupus
At least four of the eleven criteria of lupus from the American College of Rheumatology are usually present for lupus to be diagnosed.
- Malar rash – a butterfly shaped rash across cheeks and nose
- Skin rash – raised red patches
- Photosensitivity – unusually strong reaction to sun light, causing a rash or flare
- Mouth or nose ulcers – usually painless
- Nonerosive arthritis – inflammation in two or more joints.
- Cardio-pulmonary involvement – inflammation of the heart lining and/or lungs
- Neurologic disorder – seizures and/or psychosis
- Kidney disorder – increased protein or clumps of red cells in urine
- Blood disorder – anemia caused by damaged red cells, low white cells or low platelet count
- Immunological disorder – when your immune system attacks healthy cells
- Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) – positive blood test not induced by drugs