The SSA blood test can be ordered on its own, but it is often ordered as part of what is called an ENA Panel. This is requested after an individual has already tested positive on an ANA test when the signs and symptoms of an autoimmune disorder is present.
The SSA test is designed to help detected the presence of systemic lupus when given on its own. When given as part of a 4-part or 6-part ENA panel, other disorders can also be detected, such as MCTD, Sjogren syndrome, and scleroderma.
When is the SSA Blood Test Ordered?
The SSA blood test and ENA panel will be ordered whenever someone is suffering from signs or symptoms that can be the result of an autoimmune disorder. It is not ordered unless there has already been a positive ANA test in most circumstances. Because the signs and symptoms of autoimmune disorders can be quite variable and involve multiple areas of the body, a medical provider must evaluate what is being experienced in a direct manner for an accurate diagnosis.
The most common symptoms of an autoimmune disorder include muscle pain, joint pain and swelling, and persistent fatigue. A fever is also somewhat common, as are skin rashes and a sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Some individuals may also suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, which causes the fingers and toes to become cold due to blood vessel constriction in changing environmental temperatures.
In severe cases, there may also be seizures, psychoses, or severe depression. Low red and white blood cell counts may also be present.
What Do My SSA Blood Test Results Mean?
The SSA blood test may not be specific enough on its own to provide a diagnosis of SLE. Even with the signs and symptoms present of an autoimmune disorder, there is up to a 70% error rate in the results of this test. A positive result is only seen in about 30% of those who have systemic lupus. It is a very specific antibody marker, so a positive test result will often provide an affirmative diagnosis.
A negative result, however, may not rule out the presence of SLE.
This is why the SSA blood test is often given in conjunction with a full ENA panel. This allows a medical provider to look at more possibilities to determine what the cause of a patient’s bothersome signs and symptoms happen to be. These results will then be compared to the SSA blood test result to provide a more specific overview of health.
If the full ENA panel was given, then here are the additional tests and what their results may mean.
Anti-RNP Blood Test: A positive result is seen about 95% of the time for individuals with MCTD. It can also be positive when SLE or scleroderma may be present.
Anti-Ro Blood Test: A positive result is seen in 75% of those who are eventually diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. It may also be positive with SLE or scleroderma.
Anti-La Blood Test: This blood test has a positive result about 60% of the time with Sjogren’s syndrome.
SCL-70 Blood Test: There is a positive result seen in about 60% of those who have scleroderma. It is highly specific for this disease only, so it functions in much of the same way as the SSA blood test.
Anti-Jo1 Blood Test: This test offers a positive result in about 30% of those who have polymyositis. It may also be positive when pulmonary fibrosis may be present.
And then there are many more blood tests that may be requested through an ENA panel. These are just the most common. Through the saline-extracted method that was originally used to discover these antigens and work with them, more than 100 have been identified to date. Few are actually tested on a routine basis.
If there is a specific antigen being tested that is not listed here, but a medical provider has asked for an ENA panel, then ask about that antigen and what a positive test result for it could mean to your personal health.
Here’s What You Need to Know
When autoantibodies are present with the SSA blood test or any other part of the ENA panel, then they will always be present. Levels can fluctuate, but once an autoantibody appears, it will never leave.
Some patients may be asked to have a 4-panel ENA test instead of the 6-panel test. This is generally because of the laboratory needs where the blood test will be examined. The other two blood tests will be performed as well, but under their specific names.
The SSA blood test can provide specific results, but it may also provide generic results. For this reason, only a medical provider can interpret what your test results happen to be.