Diagnosing Sjogren's Syndrome and the Tests Used

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Before a patient can begin being treated for this condition, they have to be correctly diagnosed. There are tests that can be used when diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome to ensure the diagnosis is accurate and to get a better view about how severe the patient’s symptoms are. This condition may be hard to diagnose because the signs and symptoms associated with it, vary greatly from patient to patient. The signs and symptoms can also be quite similar to those of other medical conditions and diseases. The diagnostic process focuses on ruling out other possible conditions, as well as to assist in pinpointing a Sjogren’s syndrome diagnosis.

Blood Testing

Blood tests are often done first. They can create a large picture for the doctor and can rule out a lot of other medical conditions, helping the doctor get closer to making a correct diagnosis. These tests are also quick, simple, and in most cases, relatively inexpensive. Blood testing may be done to look for the following:

  • The presence of antibodies that are commonly found with this condition
  • Evidence of inflammatory conditions
  • To measure the levels of different blood cell types
  • Blood glucose levels
  • Indications of kidney or liver problems

Eye Testing

Slit-lamp test: This eye test involves the eye being examined with a magnifying device referred to as a slit lamp. A dye may be put into the eye in the form of an eye drop to make any cornea damage easier to detect.

Shirmer test: This test, also referred to as the Shirmer tear test, can be done to measure how dry a patient’s eyes are. A small piece of paper will be placed under the patient’s lower eyelid to measure their tear production.

Imaging Tests

Several different imaging tests may be done when diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome. Such tests many include:

  • Salivary scintigraphy: This is a nuclear medicine test that is done with injecting a radioactive isotope. This isotope is then tracked to measure the patient’s salivary gland function
  • Sialogram: This diagnostic imaging test can be done to look at the condition of the patient’s salivary glands. This test involves injecting a dye into the parotid glands. This test is done to determine how much saliva flows into the patient’s mouth
  • Chest x-ray: This may be done to determine if the patient has any lung inflammation

Biopsy

A biopsy may be performed to look for the presence of inflammatory cell clusters, which can indicate that this condition is present. To perform this test, the doctor will need to obtain a small tissue sample from the patient’s salivary glands and examine it with the use of a microscope.

Other Possible Tests

A spit test may be performed to determine how severe a patient’s dry mouth is. A urine sample may be obtained to analyze the patient’s kidney function.

Resources

MayoClinic.com. (2009). Sjogren’s Syndrome. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MayoClinic.com: https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sjogrens-syndrome/DS00147

American College of Rheumatology. (2008). Sjogren’s Syndrome. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from the American College of Rheumatology: https://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/sjogrens.asp