I have symptoms of lupus, but a negative ANA test. Can I still have lupus?
A lupus diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms (past and present), a family history (the medical history of close family members such as your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins) and laboratory tests.
There is no single diagnostic test for systemic lupus. The test you will hear most about is called the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. However, this is not a specific test for lupus. Most people with lupus will have a positive ANA test result. It is very rare, but it is possible to have a negative ANA test and still have lupus. In these instances, other antibodies are present.
Many different laboratory tests can be used to detect physical changes or conditions in your body that can occur with lupus. Each test result helps your doctor build a more complete picture of your illness. There are several important things to keep in mind when interpreting laboratory tests:
- No single laboratory test can determine whether a person has lupus.
- Test results that suggest lupus can be due to other illnesses, or can even be seen in healthy people.
- A test result may be positive one time and negative the next.
- Different laboratories may produce different test results.
The most common types of tests you may be asked to get are blood and urine tests. It is important to understand these common laboratory tests for lupus so you can feel confident as you work with your doctor to better understand your health.
Another option is the AVISE test, which is a blood test that can help doctors diagnose lupus and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or scleroderma. The test may be helpful for people who have a positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test, or anyone concerned they may have lupus or a similar autoimmune condition. Generally speaking, rheumatologists have not yet adopted this test as a standard. While it is helpful in reaching a diagnosis it is still not a recognized single diagnostic test and other factors such as symptoms and other diagnosis considerations should be taken into account.
The Lupus Foundation of America and our health education specialists have answered some of your most common questions. The provided answers are for educational and information purposes only. Consult with your doctor/health care team for medical advice.
Our health education specialists are specially trained to provide people affected by lupus with non-medical support, disease education, information, and helpful resources. You have lupus, but you are not alone.