Lupus erythematosus (LE) cell test measures the presence of a special cell found mostly in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
The test is mainly used to diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
No presence of LE cells is normal.
About 50% to 75% of patients with lupus have a positive test. Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and drug sensitivities (see drug-induced lupus erythematosus) also have a positive LE cell test.
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
The LE cell test is only rarely performed because better tests now exist to help diagnose lupus.
Lupus erythematosus test