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Antinuclear Antibodies Test

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KEY POINTS

  • The antinuclear antibodies test is a blood test of the immune system. It can help diagnose some autoimmune diseases.
  • A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle and sent to a lab.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is the antinuclear antibodies test?

The antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test is a blood test of the immune system.

Another name for this test is FANA (fluorescent antinuclear antibodies) screen.

Why is this test done?

This test checks for antibodies that may be attacking the body's own cells. Antibodies are the proteins your child’s immune system makes to fight infections such as the flu and measles. The immune system is the body’s defense against infection. If your child has an autoimmune disease, the body also makes antibodies that attack normal, healthy tissue such as skin, blood vessels, or joints. This test can help make a diagnosis when your child has symptoms of an autoimmune disease such as lupus.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

  • Your child may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your child’s healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that your child is taking. Ask your provider before stopping any of your child’s regular medicines.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

What does the test result mean?

To make a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will consider the ANA test results along with your child’s medical history, exam, other lab tests, and symptoms over time. If your child’s test result is positive, your child may have an autoimmune disease. However, many children who do not have an autoimmune disease have a positive test result. This is called a false positive. Usually a negative means that your child does not have the antibodies. Your healthcare provider can advise you what to do if your child’s symptoms continue or get worse.

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the result and ask questions, such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-03-25
Last reviewed: 2019-02-05
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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