Early diagnosis saves lives
The path to diagnose a disease is usually a straightforward one. The patient complains of symptoms then either has a blood test and/or scans, and these confirm the diagnosis.
If your doctor suspects you may have APS, they should order the following three blood tests that look for antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) in your blood:
The first two tests have been used since the discovery of the condition, but the anti-B2GP1 test is more recent may not be carried out in all hospitals.
If any of the above tests are positive and indicate you have aPL in your blood, then you will be asked to repeat the blood tests within six to twelve weeks to confirm that you are positive.
Seropositive and seronegative are terms that refer to the results of a blood test. If you are seropositive then your tests are positive and a firm diagnosis can, usually, easily be reached, but what if your results are negative and you still have the symptoms?
In other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, seronegativity is an accepted diagnosis and patients can be treated accordingly, but this is still a contentious issue where APS is concerned and there are two main possibilities:
Confirming a diagnosis of seronegative APS (SN-APS) can be difficult as it is not officially recognised by many specialists. However, thanks to a piece of research undertaken by University College London (UCL) and St Thomas’ Hospital which was driven by our charity’s patient group, SN-APS is now becoming more accepted in the medical community.
The collaborative research project used a new laboratory test devised by Professor Rahman’s team at UCL, and found that 10% of patients who had previously had clear clinical symptoms of APS but always tested negative, did actually test positive for this new test. Please click here to read the abstract of the study which was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases in 2014.
As with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, a firm diagnosis of seronegativity can only be made when the patient meets the clinical criteria. Therefore, in the case of SN-APS, you would have to have clotting episodes and/or recurrent miscarriages or a stillbirth before such a diagnosis would be considered. The low grade symptoms of the condition such as headaches/migraines, fatigue, memory problems and arthralgia would not be taken into account as these can be attributed to many other causes.
If you are displaying symptoms of APS find out how you can get tested via your GP or by private screening.
Thanks to other patients supplying and sharing their information, we are able to provide this national directory of APS specialist.
© 2017 APS Support UK (trading name of the Hughes Syndrome Foundation). Registered Charity Number 1138116. A company limited by guarantee registered in England 7268671.