How is Wegener's granulomatosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Wegener's granulomatosis is confirmed by detecting both abnormal cellular formations, called granulomas, and vasculitis in a biopsy of tissue involved with the inflammatory process. For examples, an open lung biopsy or a kidney biopsy are commonly used in making a diagnosis of Wegener's granulomatosis. Wegener's granulomatosis
has symptoms similar to a number of other disorders, which may make it difficult to diagnose. However, for the most effective and successful treatment, early diagnosis is critical.
A doctor will ask about symptoms and perform a physical examination. Blood tests will be done. A blood test called ANCA helps diagnosis Wegener's granulomatosis. ANCA stands for Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody, which is manufactured by the body's immune system. Since most people with Wegener's granulomatosis produce ANCA, they usually have a positive ANCA test, especially when the symptoms worsen.
A chest X-ray or chest CT (computed tomography) scan may be done to look for masses in the lungs. Urine studies may be performed to assess kidney function. The diagnosis often is confirmed by a biopsy (a small sample) of inflamed tissue and examination under a microscope. Usually, the biopsy is easy to get from inflamed areas in the nose or the skin, but sometimes a sample is needed from a lung or kidney.