The antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test is a blood test of the immune system.
Another name for this test is FANA (fluorescent antinuclear antibodies) screen.
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, his body also makes antibodies that attack normal, healthy tissue--for example, skin, blood vessels, or joints. This test can help make a diagnosis when your child has symptoms of an autoimmune disease, such as lupus.
A small amount of blood is taken from a finger with a fingerstick or 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.
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, he may have an autoimmune disease. However, many children who do not have an autoimmune disease have a positive test result. It’s also possible to have a negative result even when your child does have an autoimmune disease. Your healthcare provider can advise you what to do if your child’s symptoms continue or get worse.
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: