Indications and diagnostic outcome of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody testing in hospital medicine: a pattern of over-screening

Link to article at PubMed

Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Dec;40(12):4983-4991. doi: 10.1007/s10067-021-05870-w. Epub 2021 Aug 3.


INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVE: Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) serology can aid in the diagnosis and classification of ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAV). However, it is often ordered in patients without clinical manifestations of vasculitis. In this retrospective chart review, we aim to better understand the clinical practices on ANCA testing.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed patients' charts for the indications and diagnostic outcomes of ANCA tests. All ANCA tests ordered at two Canadian hospitals (a community hospital and an academic tertiary hospital) between January and December 2016 were included in the study. Descriptive statistics are used.

RESULTS: A total of 302 ANCA tests were included. The majority (n = 198, 65.6%) were ordered without an indication for testing. For those patients with at least 1 clinical manifestation of AAV (n = 104), 25% were ANCA positive and 18.3% resulted in a diagnosis of AAV. In comparison, among those without a clinical manifestation of AAV (n = 198), only 1.5% were ANCA positive and none was diagnosed with AAV. All patients diagnosed with AAV had at least 1 indication for ANCA testing. The three most common clinical presentations in patients with a final diagnosis of AAV were glomerulonephritis (81.8%), pulmonary hemorrhage (45.5%), and multiple lung nodules (31.8%).

CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this is the first study that evaluates patients with both positive and negative ANCA test results in an inpatient setting. We demonstrated a low rate of ANCA positivity and AAV diagnosis in patients without clinical manifestations of AAV. Overall, there is a high rate of ANCA testing without an indication at our academic institution. This over-testing may be curbed by strategies such as a gating policy, culture changes, and clinician education. Key Points • AAV is a clinical-pathological diagnosis, and despite the usefulness of ANCA testing, it does not confirm nor rule out AAV. • ANCA testing for the diagnosis of AAV is generally only indicated when there is a clear manifestation of AAV. • Although patients with AAV may occasionally present without classic signs and symptoms, the diagnostic utility of ANCA serology in this setting is low, and testing is more likely to result in a false-positive or false-negative test. • If clinical suspicion remains high despite negative ANCA testing, clinicians should seek consultation with a rheumatologist.

PMID:34342740 | DOI:10.1007/s10067-021-05870-w

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *