What is the best test to establish a diagnosis of Sjögren syndrome?

Updated: Mar 05, 2021
  • Author: Sriya K Ranatunga, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Minor salivary gland biopsy [71] currently is the best single test to establish a diagnosis of Sjögren syndrome. In this procedure, an incision is made on the inner lip, and some minor salivary glands are removed for examination. In patients with a possible diagnosis of this disease but with severe extraglandular symptoms, a lip biopsy is often performed to firmly establish the diagnosis of Sjögren syndrome. Obtaining the biopsy sample from below normal-appearing mucosa is important in order to avoid false-positive results. At least 4 salivary gland lobules should be obtained for analysis.

While this is the most definitive test, performing it is not absolutely necessary from a clinical standpoint. Patients with Sjögren syndrome are essentially treated symptomatically and are observed for the development of other rheumatic disorders or lymphoma. This can be initiated without performing a biopsy. If, however, the diagnosis is in doubt or if a definitive diagnosis is needed, then this is the best test.


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