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Diagnosis of lupus can be challenging, especially because of its wide range of symptoms that may come on slowly and change over time. It is usually made by the clinical evaluation of physical signs and symptoms in combination with tests that can help to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other causes of a person's signs and symptoms.

The following laboratory tests may be useful in the diagnosis of lupus:

Other tests that may be useful for evaluating someone with or suspected of having lupus:

Non-laboratory tests

X-rays or other imaging tests may be ordered to examine organs potentially affected by lupus.

In addition, a kidney biopsy may be performed. This involves taking a piece of kidney tissue for examination to detect any changes in the tissue that could indicate lupus and help guide treatment.

The American College of Rheumatology and the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) have validated classification criteria to aid health practitioners in making a diagnosis, in particular, of SLE.

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