Background: Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs) are strongly associated with Wegener granulomatosis, Churg-Strauss angiitis, microscopic polyangiitis, and pauci-immune glomerulonephritis, referred to collectively as ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAVs). It is unclear how accurate ANCA measurement is for diagnosing AAV in diverse populations or whether proposed ANCA test-ordering guidelines improve test performance.
Methods: We assembled a retrospective case series of hospitalized and ambulatory patients from 2 academic medical centers to assess the diagnostic accuracy of ANCA measurement by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in identifying cases of AAV. In addition, we assessed the effect of applying proposed ANCA test-ordering guidelines on test performance.
Results: For ANCA testing, sensitivity was 81%; specificity, 98%; positive predictive value, 54%; and negative predictive value, 99%. There were no significant changes in operating characteristics after applying the guideline criteria. Using guidelines would have decreased ANCA test ordering by 23% and would have decreased the false-positive rate by 27%. No cases of AAV would have been missed if only patients fulfilling the guidelines were ANCA tested.
Conclusion: A positive result on an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ANCA test, as it is currently ordered, is not a definitive diagnostic indicator of AAV. Compliance with guidelines for ANCA testing would decrease the number of false-positive results and has the potential to reduce total test expenditures.