How Do Pathology Labs Conduct ANA Tests?

The immune system consists of various essential elements, and active internal organs make the process run. White blood cells, which are responsible for fighting foreign objects in the body, make antibodies. The antibodies detect and fight germs in the body. In this process, antibodies collect other proteins and cells to fight off the infectious germs when antibodies detect any foreign substance. 

But sometimes, this whole systematic process malfunctions due to many reasons. Antibodies detect self-protein or cells as foreign particles and fight against them. These actions cause a cascade of inflammation and harm your body on several levels. The antibodies that attract proteins within the nucleus of a cell are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). 

Facing various conditions in the body, people harbor autoantibodies in a small amount. There is a normal range of the level of autoantibodies that a body can handle. If the number of antinuclear autoantibodies (ANA) increases, it can lead to autoimmune disease. These include lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, polymyositis/ dermatomyositis, mixed connective tissue diseases, drug-induced lupus, and many more. 

But these conditions can be detected beforehand with an ANA test. Depending on the situation, the ANA test cost can vary. 

What is an ANA Test?

It’s a typical blood test in which the pathologist will look for the presence of antinuclear antibodies in your blood. A standard range of antinuclear antibodies can be present in the blood. If the number of these antibodies exceeds the normal range, then you are in danger of autoimmune diseases. In such situations, your antibodies will attack your internal organ cells. 

Why is an ANA Test Necessary?

ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) test helps in diagnosing autoimmune conditions. Such as:

  • SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

SLE is the most common type of lupus; it is a chronic disease affecting many body parts including skin, joints, heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and brain.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is caused by antinuclear antibodies. Rheumatoid arthritis mostly affects joints, causing pain and often swelling in the wrists, hands, and feet.

  • Scleroderma

This rare disease also happens due to autoimmunity, in which your skin, blood vessels, and organs can be affected. 

  • Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is a rare disease that affects the tear and saliva glands. Also, it affects many other parts of the body. 

  • Addison Disease

This disease affects your adrenal glands and causes fatigue and weakness. 

  • Autoimmune Hepatitis

It is a common autoimmune condition. Autoimmune hepatitis causes swelling in your liver. 

When Do You Need to Take an ANA Test?

Your doctor may suggest an ANA test if they think you have an increased ANA level. Some symptoms depend on the part of the body that’s affected. The symptoms are: 

  • Fever
  • Rash, Blisters, Skin color Changes
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Muscle pain

What is the Procedure in an ANA Test?

When your doctor prescribes you to take an ANA test, you can do it by going to a pathology center or booking an appointment in your home. If you order an ANA test from your home, the center will send their professional sample collector to your home. The procedure for collecting the blood sample is given below: 

  • They will start by tightly binding an elastic band, called a tourniquet, around your arm. 
  • Then the tech will clean the skin area with a chemical solution, preventing germs on your skin from infiltrating your body. 
  • After that, they will puncture your skin with a syringe and draw out some blood with the suction tube. 
  • After they get enough blood for the test, they will remove the syringe and cover the puncture with a bandaid. 

Nowadays, most people prefer to collect blood samples from their homes. You can book your test at a reputed lab for accurate results. 

What is the Meaning of Different ANA Tests Result?

Although an ANA test alone won’t be able to diagnose a specific disease, it can be used along with other tests to identify the cause.  

  • Negative result

A negative ANA test result means that ANA was not found in your blood cell, and you are less likely to have an autoimmune disorder. However, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of the condition. 

  • Positive Result

If the result is positive, that means there is a presence of ANA in your blood, and it may be a sign of SLE, viral infection, or some other disease, including cancer. 

In the case of a positive result in your ANA test, your doctor may order some more tests to ascertain the cause.  

Parting Thought

An ANA test can be very helpful if you face any organ function disorder. The test results help your doctor make the diagnosis and plan the treatment accordingly.

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