Antinuclear Antibodies

What is it?

Antinuclear antibodies, usually called ANA, are found in a disease called systemic lupus (lew-pus) erythematosus (ery-theem-uh toe-sus) and other autoimmune diseases. Systemic lupus erythematosus is often called SLE, or simply lupus. There is a blood test to find if you have antinuclear antibodies. The job of the immune system is to make antibodies to protect your body against disease. Antibodies are blood proteins that find and destroy material produced by infections. An autoantibody attacks your own body causing an autoimmune (au-toe ih mewn) disease.

Why do I need it?

The symptoms of SLE may imitate other diseases. Any organ of your body can be the target of autoantibodies. If you have vague symptoms that involve different parts of your body your caregiver may order an ANA test. When the ANA is positive, other tests may need to be done to be sure of the diagnosis. Caregivers will explain the test and why you need it.

How do I get ready for the test?

Your caregiver will tell you when to have your blood test done. The blood test may be done before or after eating. You may need to stop taking some medicines before the test. Your caregiver will tell you how long before your blood is taken you should stop taking these medicines. Caregivers will tell you when it is OK to take your normal medicines.

How is the specimen collected?

A caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. The caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

After the test:

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your caregiver to get the results of your test. Your caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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