Skip to Main Content
Diagnosis Rheumatology


Your doctor will begin by recording your complete medical history, including a description of your symptoms. You also will undergo a physical examination to check for any physical signs of the disease. In order to make a definitive diagnosis of lupus a number of tests may be used, including the following:

  • Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA) This test identifies certain autoantibodies typically present in the blood of people with lupus. Most people with lupus test positive for ANA. However, a positive ANA result can occur due to infections and other rheumatic or immune diseases. In addition, healthy people without lupus also can test positive.
  • Other Blood Tests Your doctor may order other blood tests for individual types of autoantibodies, which are more specific to people with lupus. These antibodies include anti-DNA and anti-ENA antibodies as well as serum complement levels. However, not all people with lupus have positive tests.
  • Urinalysis Because lupus can cause kidney problems, your doctor may recommend an examination of your urine, called urinalysis. If elevated amounts of protein are found, you may be asked to collect all the urine you pass in a 24-hour period for analysis.
  • Biopsy In certain situations, your doctor may recommend a biopsy of an affected organ, such as kidney or skin, to better help in diagnosis and treatment. A kidney biopsy requires an overnight hospital stay.

Your doctor may order a test for syphilis or anticardiolipin antibodies. A positive test does not mean that you have syphilis, but may indicate the presence of an antibody that increases the risk of blood clotting and miscarriages.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.