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How is Lupus Diagnosed?

Diagnosing lupus involves a thorough medical history assessment, physical examination, laboratory tests including ANA, specific antibody tests, imaging studies like X-rays and ultrasounds, and sometimes biopsies to confirm organ involvement.

  • 09 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read

Lupus is a long-lasting disease where your body’s immune system attacks itself. Detecting lupus can be tough for doctors because it appears in many ways. Doctors examine your medical history, check your body and run lab tests to find out if you have it. Understanding how doctors diagnose lupus is crucial for early treatment and proper care.

Diagnosis of Lupus

Lupus diagnosis involves tests and checks to understand if someone has this complex health issue. Here are a few ways to diagnose lupus:

1. Medical History Assessment:

Doctors first examine the patient’s medical history to consider the possibility of lupus. They also check if anyone in the family has had similar health issues because sometimes genes can play a role in getting conditions like lupus.

2. Physical Examination:

Doctors conduct a comprehensive examination to diagnose lupus. They search for skin rashes, mouth sores, swollen joints, or issues with organs. Since lupus can impact various body parts such as the skin, joints, kidneys, heart and nerves, doctors thoroughly check these areas to determine its extent of impact on an individual.

3. Laboratory Tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC), Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP): Blood tests like CBC, ESR and CRP help evaluate inflammation levels and blood cell counts, providing indicators of potential lupus activity and its impact on the body.
  • Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test: The ANA test is crucial in lupus diagnosis. A positive result suggests the presence of antibodies targeting the body’s cells, often found in lupus patients. However, a positive ANA test alone isn’t definitive for diagnosing lupus.
  • Specific Antibody Tests (Anti-dsDNA and Anti-Smith Antibodies): Additional specific antibody tests, like anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) and anti-Smith (anti-Sm) antibodies, play a role in confirming a lupus diagnosis when combined with clinical findings and other test results. These tests target antibodies associated more directly with lupus.

4. Imaging Studies:

Healthcare providers suggest imaging studies like X-rays or ultrasounds to diagnose Lucus in certain situations:

  • X-rays: X-rays help detect bone and joint abnormalities caused by lupus, such as joint erosion or chest issues indicating lung complications like pleurisy or lung fibrosis.
  • Ultrasounds: Ultrasounds help examine the kidneys for lupus-related problems like swelling or scarring. This is crucial, especially for lupus nephritis cases, where lupus patients face severe kidney issues.

5. Biopsy:

  • Skin Biopsy: When the skin is affected, a tiny bit of skin is taken out and checked to spot signs linked to lupus, like skin cell inflammation or harm.
  • Kidney Biopsy: Kidney involvement, a common complication in lupus, might necessitate a kidney biopsy. This helps assess the severity of kidney damage and guide appropriate treatment strategies.
  • Other Organ Biopsies: Healthcare providers might conduct biopsies of the affected areas to confirm lupus-related damage depending on the suspected involvement of other organs.

Also read:


Diagnosing lupus can be challenging, but collaboration between different doctors and various tests can simplify the process. Individuals with lupus should ensure they have comprehensive health insurance tailored to their needs. Early detection of lupus and access to quality healthcare enhance lives and make managing the illness more manageable.

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