What Is an Antinuclear Antibody Panel?
Antibodies are proteins made by your body immune system. They help your body recognize and battle infections. Antibodies usually target hazardous compounds, such as bacteria and viruses, by triggering the body immune system to get rid of them.
In some cases, however, antibodies mistakenly target your healthy cells and tissues. This is known as an autoimmune response. Antibodies that attack healthy proteins within the nucleus– the control center of your cells — are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). When the body gets signals to attack itself, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, autoimmune hepatitis, and others can occur. Symptoms vary by disease, but they may include rashes, swelling, arthritis, or fatigue. While it’s normal to have some ANA, having too many of these proteins is a sign that there might be an active autoimmune disease, such as lupus. An ANA panel assists figure out the level of ANA in your blood. You may have an autoimmune disorder if the level is high. Nevertheless, conditions such as infections, cancer, and other medical problems can likewise lead to a positive ANA test.
When Is an Antinuclear Antibody Panel Required?
Your doctor will typically buy an ANA panel if you have signs or symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. An ANA test may indicate that you have some kind of autoimmune condition, but it cannot be used to detect a specific disorder. If your test comes back positive, your doctor will have to do more specific and comprehensive screening to figure out if an autoimmune disease is triggering your symptoms.
Do I Have to Get Ready for the Test?
There is no preparation required for the ANA panel. Nevertheless, it’s essential to inform your doctor about any medications or supplements that you’re taking, even over the counter ones. Some drugs, such as particular seizure and heart medications, can impact the precision of the test. The ANA panel resembles other blood tests. A phlebotomist will connect an elastic band around your upper arm so your veins swell with blood. This makes it simpler for them to discover a vein. After cleaning up the site with an antiseptic, they’ll place a needle into a vein. You might feel some moderate pain when the needle goes in, but the test itself isn’t really painful. Blood is then collected in a tube connected to the needle. As soon as the blood is gathered, the phlebotomist will remove the needle from your vein and cover the leak site.
In infants or children, a lancet (small scalpel) might be used to puncture the skin, and blood may be collected in a little tube called a pipette. It might likewise be gathered on a test strip. The blood is then sent to a laboratory for evaluation.
The risks of doing an ANA panel are very little. People with veins that are more difficult to access may experience more discomfort than others during the blood test. Other risks can consist of excessive bleeding, infection at the puncture site, fainting, hematoma (blood building up under the skin).
Positive ANA Test Meaning
A negative test suggests that specific autoimmune diseases are less likely. Nevertheless, other tests may still be required based upon your symptoms. Some people with autoimmune diseases might test negative for ANA however positive for other antibodies.
A positive ANA test suggests that you have high levels of ANA in your blood. A positive ANA test is generally reported as both a ratio (called a titer) and a pattern, such as smooth or speckled. Certain diseases are most likely to have certain patterns. The higher the titer the more likely the outcome is a “true positive” result, meaning you have substantial antinuclear antibodies and an autoimmune disease.
Nevertheless, a positive outcome doesn’t always imply that you have an autoimmune disease. Approximately 15 percent of totally healthy people have a positive ANA test. This is called a “false-positive” test outcome. ANA titers can likewise increase with age amongst healthy people, so it’s essential to talk with your doctor about your symptoms and what your outcome implies to you.
If your primary doctor bought the test, they may recommend a referral to a rheumatologist — an autoimmune disease specialist — to subsequent any unusual ANA results. They can typically help identify if your test results belong to a specific condition.
A positive ANA test alone cannot detect a specific disease. Nevertheless, some conditions that are connected with a positive ANA test consist of:.
- systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus): an autoimmune disorder that can affect various parts of your body, consisting of the heart, kidneys, joints, and skin.
- autoimmune hepatitis: an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the liver, in addition to rashes, joint pain, tiredness, poor hunger, and nausea.
- rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disorder that causes joint destruction, pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints and affects the lungs, heart, eyes and other organs.
- Sjögren syndrome: an autoimmune disorder that impacts the salivary and lacrimal glands, which produce saliva and tears.
- scleroderma: an autoimmune disorder that mainly impacts the skin and other connective tissues however can affect organs also.
- autoimmune thyroid disease: a range of conditions that affect your thyroid, consisting of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- polymyositis/dermatomyositis: autoimmune conditions that cause pain, weak point, and inflammation of the muscles, and can consist of a rash.
Labs can differ in their requirements for a positive test. Talk with your doctor about what your levels mean and how your symptoms might be discussed by the presence of ANA. If your ANA test comes back positive, your doctor will have to run more tests in order to help determine if the results are related to a specific condition.
The ANA test is particularly valuable in identifying lupus. More than 95 percent of people with lupus will test positive. Nevertheless, not everyone that evaluates positive for ANA has lupus, and not everyone with lupus tests positive for ANA. Therefore, the test can’t be used as the only method of medical diagnosis.
Consult with your doctor about extra tests that can be done to figure out if there is a hidden cause for the increased ANA in your blood.