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›› Lab Tests and Imaging
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Lab Tests and Imaging

In addition to reviewing family history and a thorough physical exam (discussed on the previous page), doctors often employ the following high-tech tools to diagnose arthritis:

Laboratory Tests

The doctor may order some laboratory tests to help confirm a diagnosis. Samples of blood, urine, or synovial fluid (fluid found in the joint) may be needed for the tests. Common laboratory tests include:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) Test
  • Arthrocentesis
  • Complement
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test
  • Creatinine
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (Sed Rate)
  • Hematocrit (PCV, packed cell volume)
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Urinalysis
  • X-Rays and Other Imaging Procedures

    Doctors may ask for X-ray or other imaging procedures to review the condition of the joint. X-rays provide an image of the bones while other imaging methods like Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used to show the whole joint.


    Doctors use a device called an Arthroscope which is a small, flexible tube that transmits the image of the inside of a joint to a video screen and examine damage to a joint. The Arthroscopy allows the doctors to see inside the joint. Also doctors use arthroscopy to perform surgery for some types of joint injury.

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