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Hi & welcome. I'm only a (dumb) patient, but from reading, I think there are many overlaps among the "connective tissue conditions" (of which lupus is only one), but that specialists have ways to parse them. Diagnosis is as much art as science, I think.

For lupus, the main thing is how many ACR criteria a patient fulfills. You can find these in the "sticky posts" ( = permanent info posts) at the top of the thread list. Also, really sharp rheumatologists ask you questions that resemble the so-called "alternative criteria", also in the sticky posts.

Another determinant is (probably) WHICH specific autoantibody (or antibodies plural) are found. For example, if *only* anti-RNP is found---but always keeping in mind the ACR criteria---that might suggest MCTD (mixed connective tissue disease), which is a close cousin of lupus. But if anti-RNP is seen in conjunction with other antibody(ies) that are seen in lupus, that may tilt the thinking toward lupus.

There are other examples of parsing. For example, if anti-Ro and anti-La are found, doctors may consider Sjogren's syndrome and lupus; perhaps skin biopsy (for lupus) or lip biopsy (for Sjogren's) would be done next. For positive RF, which can occur in RA or lupus (and maybe some other things, too, I'm not sure), doctors may do X-rays to look for the "mouse bites" that are seen in RA.

And I bet there are more examples of how drs. narrow down to a final answer! Anyway, while I'm sure not glad you're expecting to be diagnosed with a connective tissue condition, at least it's good that you're in the right ballpark (rheumatology) & are thus closer to answers & treatment. Good luck on Monday, let us know how it goes, OK? Sending best wishes & hugs, Vee

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