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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and will examine you. This may be followed by:

  • Standard blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and sedimentation rate or c-reactiveC-reactive protein (CRP), tests that indicate body-wide inflammation

  • Blood tests to evaluate immune-system activity - Tests for antibodies, including those typically found in lupus and infections, and one specifically associated with many types of vasculitis, called anti-neutrophilic cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)

  • Blood tests to check for organ damage, including tests to assess liver and kidney function

  • A urinalysis to evaluate possible kidney problems

  • A tissue biopsy, in which a small sample of an organ (such as skin, muscle, nerve or kidney) is removed and examined in a laboratory - This is the most accurate way to diagnose vasculitis.

  • A test called an arteriogram or angiogram - This can be performed as part of an MRI or CT scan, or as is an X-ray test in which dye is injected into specific blood vessels to outline their path and check for areas of vessel damage or narrowing. This test generally is done only when a biopsy cannot be done or does not provide a diagnosis.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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