The antinuclear antibody test. When is a positive result clinically relevant?

Postgrad Med. 1993 Aug;94(2):55-8, 63, 66.


The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is sensitive but not specific. Many nonrheumatic diseases and conditions can cause positive results, and some healthy persons have positive results. ANA testing should not be used to evaluate patients who have vague complaints or symptoms. Rather, it is best used in patients with signs or symptoms of rheumatic disease to justify further specific investigation aimed at confirming a diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Liver Diseases / immunology
  • Lung Diseases / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sex Factors


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear