Here are some frequently asked questions about JOINTstat®
In the very early stages of RA, joint symptoms can overlap with other conditions, which can delay RA referrals to rheumatologists. Your primary care physician may order JOINTstat® to help determine if you should be referred to a rheumatologist for a potential RA diagnosis. Rheumatologists commonly use the JOINTstat® test to support their clinical assessment as they determine the severity of your RA and monitor your disease.
JOINTstat® may be ordered by your primary care physician as long as your joint symptoms persist. Remember that the levels of the protein change over time (higher or lower) and a positive test signals that a rheumatology referral may be needed. Your rheumatologist may order it at each of your visits to see if your levels are going up or down. The results provide biological-level information of joint damage mechanisms underway that supplement your doctor’s clinical assessment.
The protein that JOINTstat® measures is known to be present even before a confirmed RA diagnosis and is considered a risk factor for the development of RA because it drives inflammation and joint destruction pathway that begin very early in the disease process. In this regard, JOINTstat® is the only blood test that both directly informs a joint damage process and whose levels change over time as the disease changes.
Studies have shown that JOINTstat® is highly specific, is associated with more severe forms of the disease, and complements current markers enabling a more accurate diagnosis of RA. JOINTstat® is transforming the way patients with RA are diagnosed, monitored and cared for.
Similar to other blood tests, your physician fills a blood test requisition and requests JOINTstat® on the form. In Canada, you take the requisition to a Dynacare patient service center, your blood is drawn, processed and then the results are reported to the ordering physician. For patients in the United States, testing of the protein that JOINTstat® measures (14-3-3η) is available through Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp).
If you have sporadic or chronic joint pain your doctor can order JOINTstat® to determine if you need a rheumatology referral. Being negative once does not mean you will always be negative so ongoing testing every six months with persistent joint symptoms can be useful. For patients who have an RA diagnosis, your rheumatologist may order JOINTstat® on each visit when they plan to make a clinical management change. Discuss with your doctor whether JOINTstat® will benefit you.
The results of your test will be sent to your doctor just like any other regular laboratory test. You can also access your results online the same way you do for your other Medical Laboratory Services tests.