Positive rheumatoid factor blood test: What does it mean?

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Positive rheumatoid factor blood test: What does it mean?

Question

What conditions — other than rheumatoid arthritis — can cause a positive rheumatoid factor test?

Joyce
Arizona

Answer

Rheumatoid factors (RFs) are antibodies that attach to other antibodies and may trigger inflammation in the body. A positive rheumatoid factor test means that rheumatoid factor has been detected in your blood. This test is used mainly to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — about 80 percent of people with RA test positive for rheumatoid factor. But other conditions also can cause a positive rheumatoid factor test, including:

  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Chronic mononucleosis
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Lupus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Scleroderma
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Leukemia

In addition, rheumatoid factor can also be detected in healthy people. It's important to discuss with your doctor the significance of a positive rheumatoid factor test in your specific situation.

Last Updated: 10/18/2006
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