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New Standards to Improve Diagnosis of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Four million Americans have the disease

The criteria were announced by UCSF on August 10 and are outlined in an article published in Arthritis Care & Research.

As many as 4 million Americans have Sjögren’s syndrome — the second most common autoimmune rheumatic disease in the U.S. Ninety percent of those affected are women.

The diagnosis and management of Sjögren’s syndrome requires three areas of specialty practice: rheumatology, ophthalmology, and oral medicine/pathology.

Until now, physicians diagnosing the disease relied on a combination of objective tests and subjective features, such as patient reports of signs and symptoms.

The Sjögren’s International Collaborative Clinical Alliance (SICCA) was created to develop a simpler and more objective set of criteria, establishing a universal standard for Sjögren's syndrome.

Tests for the new classification criteria include:

  • Anti-SS-A/B serology, which measures the level of specific Sjögren’s syndrome antibodies in blood.
  • Labial salivary gland biopsy (the removal of minor salivary glands from the lips), which demonstrates a specific pattern of inflammation associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Staining the eye’s surface with a specialized dye to test for keratoconjunctivitis sicca, an eye disease caused by eye dryness. A score of three or more is considered to be positive.

Two of the three tests must be positive for a person to be diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome.

For more information, visit the UCSF Web site.

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