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Scans of organ function

Lung function tests


The patient breathes hard and fast into a tube to produce a read out on a graph.

Heart scans


An ultrasound scan of the heart.  It looks at the structure of the heart, how well it pumps, and any abnormalities such as fluid around the heart.


Leads are placed on the chest and arms to pick up electrical signals of the heart.

Skin function


Examines the warmth given off by the skin as a measure of its thickness and the presence of inflammation under the skin.


A microscope is used to examine the blood vessels at the edge of the nail bed as an assessment of Raynaud's, scleroderma and vasculitis.

Joint fluid

A needle can be placed in a joint to take off the fluid (see joint injections). The fluid may be sent to the laboratory to look for infection or crystals.


A small sample of tissue is taken to be examined under the microscope in the lab.  Skin biopsies are easily performed with a little local anaesthetic, whereas biopsy of internal organs such as the kidneys or lungs will require a general anaesthetic.  Biopsies are taken to help with diagnosis and sometimes to measure the response to treatment.