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Investigations add extra information to the questions we ask in clinic and the examinations we perform.

They include:

Why do we do investigations?

Essentially, there are four reasons for doing investigations:

  1. To help with making a diagnosis
    Investigations may provide the extra pieces of the diagnostic puzzle. They are used to test whether the presumed diagnosis made from the patient's history and examination is correct. Investigations alone are rarely helpful and in rheumatology there are few specific diagnostic tests.
  2. To monitor the progress of a patient
    Blood tests supplement the clinic visit in monitoring the degree of inflammation or function of an organ (for example, the kidneys). Scans such as ultrasound, MRI and lung function tests are also used to monitor a patient's progress and guide treatment.
  3. To assess whether persistent inflammation has caused damage
    Scans are used to pick up any damage to a joint or other affected organ and help us give you further advice.
  4. To assist drug monitoring
    When medication is given for a long period of time, there is an increased risk of possible side effects. This does not mean side effects will occur, but if they do blood tests can pick them up early to allow prompt action - usually a temporary adjustment to medication.