Diagnosing GPA and MPA
Your doctor will diagnose you based on your signs and symptoms, your medical history, a physical exam, and test results. Unfortunately, there is no one simple test that can diagnose Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) and Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA). Often, the path to diagnosis can be a long, confusing, and frustrating one.
A combination of tests are performed
In order to diagnose GPA and MPA, doctors may perform a combination of tests, including:
- Blood tests
- Blood tests can show if you have abnormal levels of certain blood cells and antibodies in your blood. A blood test will be performed to check for ANCAs
- During a biopsy, your doctor will take a tissue sample from a blood vessel or an affected organ. A pathologist, a doctor who specializes in studying cells and tissues under a microscope, will look at the sample for signs of inflammation or tissue damage
- Urine test
- You will provide a urine sample for evaluation. This test looks for any abnormal levels of protein or blood cells in the urine, which can be signs that your kidneys are affected
- Chest X-ray
- This is a test that creates pictures of the structures inside your chest, such as your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. An abnormal chest X-ray may show any changes that may be affecting your lungs
- Computed tomography scans
- A computed tomography scan (usually called a CT scan) is a type of X-ray that creates more detailed pictures of your internal organs than a standard X-ray. It can show abnormalities that have developed in your sinuses, chest, or abdominal organs
Keep in mind
Only your doctor can diagnose you. Talk with him or her about any symptoms you may be having and what treatments may be right for you.
Charli's road to diagnosis
The road to a GPA and MPA diagnosis can be a tough one. Just ask Charli. "I was diagnosed with GPA after a very long time because it is such a rare disease. At first, it was my lungs. And then I started to have a bunch of sinus infections," she says. Charli even had a couple of surgeries to try to fix her sinus issues.
After some time, Charli's kidneys started to fail, which led her doctor to perform a number of tests. Sure enough, Charli tested ANCA-positive. "I eventually ended up with a vasculitis specialist who diagnosed me with GPA. And that's when I started to learn as much as I could about my disease."
Charli continues to stay informed about her condition. And she is a constant advocate for herself. "The advice I would give someone who's been diagnosed with GPA is to learn as much as you can about the disease. And don't give up."
To hear Charli's story, click here to view video.