Understanding Pediatric Rheumatologic Lab Results

Interpreting rheumatology lab results can be challenging not only for pediatricians, but also for parents, explains Jay Mehta, MD, MSEd, associate professor of clinical pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In his presentation, Red Flag of Red Herring: Rheumatologic Lab Evaluation of Musculoskeletal Pain for the American Academy of Pediatrics conference, Mehta discussed examples of patient presentations commonly seen by pediatricians and how to properly screen them.

There are specific challenges associated with treating pediatric patients. Mehta used the example of how arthritis is not associated with pain in 25% of children. It can appear much more subtle than limp or morning stiffness.

Being able to distinguish between something truly alarming when screening lab results, as opposed to something that is only seemingly alarming, is important, but difficult if you’re not sure what to look for. And that was Mehta’s goal in his presentation at the conference.

“As rheumatologists, we take the history, we take the exam, we take the labs and put it all together,” Mehta said. “One of the things I like about pediatric rheumatology is that it feels like the puzzle pieces fit together, but sometimes those puzzle pieces can be missing, or they might look a little different.”

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