Diagnosis of Rheumatic & Autoimmune Disorders

Should I be screened for an autoimmune disorder?

If you have the following symptoms or lab results, contact us for autoimmune disease screening. 

Symptoms can come and go, or develop over months or years. 

If you do have an autoimmune disease, it’s essential to begin treatment promptly to avoid permanent damage to your organs.

Thorough lab work and experienced and expert clinical assessment are essential to making a complete and accurate diagnosis. Rheumatic and autoimmune diseases share symptoms with many other conditions, and often “cluster” with other diseases. This is why primary care doctors—who see comparatively few patients with these diseases—often struggle to reach a definitive diagnosis.

Rheumatologists frequently order tests for disease-specific antibodies associated with various autoimmune disorders and narrow down the possible causes of your immune system’s overreaction. 

In addition, they often order basic diagnostic tests to determine the current extent of inflammation and rule out temporary and/or non-inflammatory causes such as injury or infection.

While this list of tests is not exhaustive, it explains some of the most common tests used by rheumatologists and immunologists.


Common Lab Tests

Used to help diagnose lupus.

Tests for an autoimmune response targeting a specific variety of white blood cells known as neutrophils.

Tests for certain antibodies in your blood. Most people with positive ANA tests do not have lupus. A diagnosis of lupus requires several additional lab tests and clinical findings.

Tests for certain antibodies which can signal autoimmune disorders of the circulatory system.

An inflammatory marker and an indication of potential renal issues; useful for diagnosing certain types of vasculitis.

An inflammatory marker that’s usually elevated in autoimmune disorders.

Checks for specific types of antibodies that are usually elevated in rheumatoid arthritis.

Assesses the relative number of different types of blood cells. Abnormal counts can indicate autoimmune diseases like vasculitis that affect the circulatory system.

Checks for two specific antibodies (also known as cryoglobulins), IgG and IgM, often linked to Raynaud’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjögren’s syndrome, leukemia, and lymphoma.

“Sed rate.” Inflammation in the blood sample causes cells to clump and settle. 

Often elevated in the presence of inflammation.

Usually a measure of blood clotting, levels tend to rise with inflammation.

Abnormal levels may be a sign of kidney problems.

Used to rule out HIV as a possible cause of current inflammatory symptoms

Used to rule out a previous viral infection, medication side-effects, or heavy alcohol use as a cause of current inflammation and/or elevated cryoglobulins (antibodies).

MRI, PET and CT scans, MRA (magnetic resonance angiography), X-ray, and ultrasound imaging studies are used to assess joint, soft tissue, circulatory and other possible impairments.

Tests for proteins commonly present in rheumatoid arthritis to help rule out other causes of inflammation.