What is the role of lab studies in the workup of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (USpA)?

Updated: Feb 02, 2021
  • Author: Lawrence H Brent, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Approximately 15% of patients with AS present with a normochromic normocytic anemia of chronic disease. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or the C-reactive protein (CRP) level is elevated in approximately 75% of patients and may correlate with disease activity in some, but not all, patients; these values may also be used as markers of response to treatment. [92, 93]

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is elevated in 50% of patients; this indicates active ossification but does not correlate with disease activity. Creatine kinase (CK) is occasionally elevated but is not associated with muscle weakness. The serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) level may be elevated, correlating with elevated acute-phase reactants.

Of white patients with AS, 92% are HLA-B27 positive; the percentage is lower in patients of other ethnic backgrounds. Determining HLA-B27 status is not a necessary part of the clinical evaluation and is not required to establish the diagnosis. However, in patients suspected of having a spondyloarthropathy, determining HLA-B27 status may help support the diagnosis, especially in populations with a low prevalence of HLA-B27.

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