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Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis: 8 tests for diagnosis

Doctors can use a variety of blood tests to look for markers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and help diagnose the condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. A doctor will diagnose rheumatoid arthritis by asking a person about their symptoms, carrying out a physical examination, taking blood tests, and using imaging studies.

Doctors may test blood samples for several inflammatory and immune system compounds that are usually present in a person who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

In this article, learn more about these blood tests and other diagnostic methods for RA.

Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis

The following are some of the blood tests that a doctor may order to help diagnose RA.

Usually, a doctor or nurse can draw several blood samples from one vein to conduct different tests.

Drawing several blood samples at once avoids the need for using multiple needles.

It is worth noting that a doctor might not order all of the tests below to diagnose RA.

The tests that they choose will depend on the person’s symptoms and the outcome of the physical examination.

1. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP)

What it tests: This test looks for a specific auto-antibody called anti-CCP, which is present in an estimated 60 to 80 percent of people with RA, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Interpreting the results: If a person has anti-CCP levels higher than 20 units per milliliter (u/ml), they may have an increased risk of RA.

The anti-CCP test is similar to the rheumatoid factor antibody test, which features later on in this article. However, doctors often use it in preference to the rheumatoid factor test for greater accuracy.

2. Antinuclear antibody (ANA)

What it tests: This test looks for high levels of antinuclear antibodies, which are compounds that can attack a cell’s nucleus, destroying the cell.

Read on: Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis: 8 tests for diagnosis

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