Rheumatoid Arthritis Test: Some Funny Factors

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Oh finally, the real “RA test”!

The other day, I picked up my lab test results. Because of new insurance, I’d been sent to a new lab. New procedures. New forms. New nightmare parking lot.

I’m such an RA geek I start reading my blood test results the minute they are handed to me while walking out the door. This time something jumped off the page at me. New name for the Rheumatoid factor: it’s the RA Test.

Oh good, they finally found the definitive test. Oh darn, I passed.  Oh no, that’s nuts.

Is there a Rheumatoid Arthritis test or not?

Not.

Oh you wanna know more? About a year ago, I wrote my first posts about Rheumatoid Arthritis blood tests. In Is There a Blood Test for Rheumatoid Arthritis? Part 1, I tried to explain in plain talk how four different tests are used together to help identify Rheumatoid Arthritis. Then, in Blood Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis, part 2, I looked at the reason all the blood tests we do for Rheumatoid Arthritis still do not provide an adequate Rheumatoid Arthritis test. One third to almost half of RA patients have negative results on the commonly used tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Those are nice short posts with easy to understand language. But I did hours and hours of research. There are lots of scholarly articles linked there. I hope you’ll look at them when you have time.

“False negative” Rheumatoid Arthritis test

It’s not “false negative.” It oughta be called “fake negative.” What they do call it is sero-negative. It means we didn’t find the Rheumatoid factor antibodies in your blood serum. At least the ones we looked for. At least today.

In another post, Rheumatoid Factor Test: Should We Rely on Rheumatoid Factor Levels, we learned that there is actually more than one kind of antibody to be tested and more than one kind of Rheumatoid factor test. A negative result on a Rheumatoid factor test could be positive if it were performed in a different way. There is not a Rheumatoid Arthritis test. Period.

I was wondering why it was so hard for many people to understand that Rheumatoid factor is NOT the “Rheumatoid Arthritis TEST.” Now I get it. What else were the poor dear patients to think when they look at the paper and it says “RA Test”?

Docs who say it, however, have no excuse for being confused since they went to school to learn this stuff.

“False positive” Rheumatoid Arthritis test?

This is also a misnomer. There is no “false positive” because there is nothing “positive” or definite about a Rheumatoid factor test. Patients with RA may have Rheumatoid factor antibodies that are detectable at some times and not at others.

But there are many of other things that can trigger a positive result to a Rheumatoid factor test. Here’s an article with a fairly long list of triggers for a positive result to the so-called Rheumatoid Arthritis test on AnswerBag.com. Some triggers for a positive test include autoimmune diseases, infections and viruses, cancers, kidney disease, HIV, and other chronic diseases. I wonder what those patients think when they sit in their car reading RA Test: positive.

Recommended reading:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 7:00 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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