How is lupus diagnosed?

The diagnosis of lupus is best made by an experienced clinician who fully understands the disease and other diseases with similar features that can mimic lupus. The diagnosis is made when a patient has several features of the disease (including symptoms, findings on examination and blood test abnormalities). The American College of Rheumatology has devised criteria to assist clinicians in making the correct diagnosis of lupus.

Does a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test indicate lupus?

Not necessarily. The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is positive in most patients with lupus, but it may also be positive in many people who do not have lupus. Therefore, a positive ANA test alone is not adequate for the diagnosis of lupus -- there must be at least three additional clinical features for the diagnosis to be made.

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