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Lab Test Guide

Lab Test Guide

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Published by: ragingreader on Sep 25, 2011
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Lab Test Guide
Learn what your doctor is looking for when he orders avial of blood or draws fluid from an inflamed knee.
By Mary Anne DunkinMore than for most other diseases, the diagnosis and treatment of arthritisrequire a hands-on approach. By examining your tender joints and musclesand listening to your description of your symptoms and their severity, a
doctor can usually get a pretty good idea of what’s going on inside your
body.But there are times when a doctor needs information that only a laboratoryexamination of bodily fluids and tissues can reveal. When he needs toconfirm a diagnosis, monitor disease progress or medication effectiveness, or
determine if the drugs you’re taking are causing potentially dangerous –
butnot evident
side effects, lab tests are in order.The majority of lab tests are performed on blood because it is easily and
safely sampled and it holds many microscopic clues to what’s going on
throughout the body. Other tests may require urine, joint fluid or even smallp
ieces of skin or muscle. Whether you’re just beginning the diagnostic
process or completing your umpteenth year of treatment, the followinginformation should help you understand some of the most common lab tests
you’re likely to encounter.
Making a Diagnosis
While lab tests aren’t needed for every form of arthritis, they are very
important to verify and confirm the presence of some diseases, according to
Robert Lahita, MD, chief of rheumatology at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital
and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University. If yoursymptoms and physical examination suggest rheumatoid arthritis,lupus,
Sjogren’s syndrome, Lyme disease or one of a few other inf 
lammatory forms
of arthritis, the following tests can often confirm your doctor’s suspicions:
Antinuclear antibody (ANA)
Commonly found in the blood of people who
have lupus, ANAs (abnormal antibodies directed against the cells’ nuclei) can
also suggest
the presence of polymyositis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome,
mixed connective tissue disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Tests to detectspecific subsets of these antibodies can be used to confirm the diagnosis of aparticular disease or form of arthritis.
Rheumatoid factor (RF)
Designed to detect and measure the level of anantibody that acts against the blood component gamma globulin, this test is

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