An ANA (antinuclear antibody) screen is a blood test that detects the presence of autoantibodies in the blood. Autoantibodies are antibodies that attack the body’s own cells and tissues, and the presence of certain autoantibodies can indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease. Here are some reasons why you might need an ANA screen test:
Suspected autoimmune disease: An ANA screen is often used as a first-step screening test for autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. A positive ANA screen does not necessarily mean that a person has an autoimmune disease, but it can indicate the need for further testing.
Monitoring disease progression: An ANA screen can be used to monitor the progression of autoimmune diseases and the effectiveness of treatment. Changes in autoantibody levels can indicate changes in disease activity, and the test can be used to adjust treatment accordingly.
Differential diagnosis: The symptoms of autoimmune diseases can be similar to other medical conditions, and an ANA screen can be used to help differentiate between these conditions. The test can help to confirm a diagnosis of autoimmune disease and rule out other possible causes of symptoms.
Follow-up testing: An ANA screen may be followed up with additional testing, such as an ANA titer and specific autoantibody tests, to help identify the specific autoimmune disease that a person may have.
Your healthcare provider will determine whether an ANA screen test is necessary based on your individual medical history and symptoms. If you have symptoms that may be related to an autoimmune disease, such as joint pain, skin rashes, or fatigue, an ANA screen may be ordered as part of your diagnostic workup.