Lab Tests Aren’t Enough to Diagnose Juvenile Arthritis, Study Says

Lab tests and imaging are often used to diagnose juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children. But according to a recent literature review, they aren’t sufficient to arrive at a diagnosis. According to the review, a physical examination and a thorough patient history are necessary to definitely diagnose the autoimmune disease.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) affects nearly 300,000 children in the United States. Depending on the type of JIA, symptoms can vary — which is why diagnosis is sometimes difficult. “To establish a diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a matter of pattern recognition,” says Marilynn Punaro, MD, the author of the review. “There is no lab test that can conclusively diagnose rheumatic disease—you have to rule out other common diagnoses. That is why a full physical exam is important, as well as a detailed patient history that will reveal other symptoms.”

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