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LE cell test

Alternative Names: Lupus erythematosus test

Lupus erythematosus (LE) cell test measures the presence of a special cell found mostly in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Why is the Test Performed?

The test is mainly used to diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

How is the Test Performed?

Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.

Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.

Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.

How will the Test Feel?

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

LE cell test Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Considerations

The LE cell test is only rarely performed because better tests now exist to help diagnose lupus.

Normal Results for LE cell test

No presence of LE cells is normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

About 50% to 75% of patients with lupus have a positive test. Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and drug sensitivities (see drug-induced lupus erythematosus) also have a positive LE cell test.

Review Date: 5/31/2009
Reviewed By: Mark James Borigini, MD, Rheumatologist in the Washington, DC Metro area. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Do not use this information for medical emergencies - Call 911. This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should always be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other websites do not constitute endorsements and are provided for information only. Any duplication or distribution of this information is strictly prohibited.
Copyright 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc.
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