At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
When to Get Tested?
If your doctor thinks that you have symptoms of SLE, drug-induced lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, scleroderma or another autoimmune connective tissue disease
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
Test Preparation Needed?
None needed; however, some drugs interfere with the test, so tell your doctor about any medications you are taking.
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
The ANA test identifies the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in blood. These antibodies are produced by the body's immune system – the body's defence system against invasion by foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria. Sometimes the immune system malfunctions and produces substances that attack your body's own cells and tissues instead of foreign substances. When this happens, the resulting disease is termed an autoimmune disease . The presence of ANA is associated with several autoimmune diseases but is most commonly seen in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in the arm.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed; however, some drugs interfere with the test, so tell your doctor about any medications you are taking.
Ask a Laboratory Scientist
NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.