Blood tests: How often?

Hi. Question for everyone under care of a rheumatologist: How often do you have blood tests for disease markers (e.g. CRP, ESR, FBC)? And which ones?

Every appointment? Less often? Only when you're symptomatic?

And for those who are seronegative: How many times were you tested for Rheumatoid Factor or ANA? Did the results change?

All answers gratefully received, thank you.

23 Replies

  • For me it was every 4 weeks now fortnightly since the end of September following a telephone review so it depends on your bloods and Rhuematology department. I was advised to continue until next review in 2 months but appointment came through for February so called and asked if I need to continue fortnightly until February and appointment brought forward to December. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this appointment is not cancelled. My GP said the same that I should be seen sooner rather than later.

  • Started off every two weeks, and slowly increased time gap so now every 3 months unless I feel something's awry. And usually the full range of tests, so inflammation, liver, kidneys, etc etc. 4 vials of blood and about 20 different tests.

    As for RF and anti-CCP I was only tested for diagnosis (-ve RF and +Ve anti-CCP) and since have a firm diagnosis haven't raised question as to whether should be rechecked.

  • I think it depends on the medication you're on as well as how settled you are on the dose. When I was titrating up on methotrexate, at one point I was having weekly bloods. I don't know if it was my hospital's policy or not but when I was on leflumomide, I had to have them weekly. Now I'm on methotrexate and humira, I'm meant to have them 4 weekly but I negotiated to every 6-8 weeks. They got rid of all the walk in blood clinics in my area and booking appointments is a nightmare. I couldn't manage all my other medical appointments, humira deliveries, methotrexate collection from the hospital (because it's injections) and the bloods as well as having a job.

    I have only been tested for RF and ANA twice, once at diagnosis and once when I moved to a local hospital in 2011. I'm keen to have them re-tested because there was a query over lupus but my consultant says they're too expensive and there's no point as the diagnosis wouldn't change my treatment. I'm a bit iffy about that because I know other people have them done but I can't be bothered to argue the toss.

  • Thanks. Are they testing CRP every time?

  • When I was having blood tests more frequently they did ESR every time, and CRP only every few months. Now I'm only being tested every 3 months ESR & CRP are both done.

  • Hi yes every 3 months x

  • Every month for me x

  • For CRP/ESR? Or kidney/liver function?

  • both and full blood count

  • Hi Rena,

    I'm on Hydroxychloroquine and Etanercept for sero negative RA ( query PsA) and I have blood tests every eight weeks if I have a cold or bad chest for example they bring them forwards.

    I have them done at my GP's surgery and the results are posted on my patient access online and I can track the results which even come with a graph which is a fantastic tool for visually showing friends and family who don't understand how dramatic the differences between uncontrolled inflammatory arthritis and drug induced remission can be.

    I have Full blood count, Liver function tests, Urea screen ( kidneys) and CRP.

    My GP surgery do not promote ESR as CRP is a more accurate measurement applicable to the disease whereas ESR indicates generalised inflammation.

    They say doing both every eight weeks is unecessary.

    I have had my ESR done many times however, as they do add it in when And if I flare.

    Al, the above sounds tickety boo and streamlined but actually it's been a battle.

    Despite my referral to the Rheumatology department coming from my GP this particular trust does not have a shared pathway with my GP😡

    So my GP surgery say the hospital should do my blood tests and the hospital insist my GP does them.

    If I wasn't a determined character and a strong advocate for my own disease I think I would have fallen through the net a long time ago.

    All last year I got the third degree from the receptionist every time I tried to book blood tests. It was very exhausting and made me feel as if I was a hypochondriac.

    Waiting for my results today as it goes👍🏼


  • Hi Mandalou - I absolutely LOVE tickeyboo!!!

  • Every month for me.I am not on methotrexate

  • Every 4 weeks-ESR, CRP, liver, kidneys, full blood count

  • Every four weeks at the same time I receive my Actemra infusion. CBC, ESR. AST, ALT, BUN

  • I'm under shared care between rheumatologist and GP. I see the rheumatologist once a year.

    GP does not test for ESR or CRP although I've recently found I can request it done every 6 months according to NICE guidelines. Did ask the rheumatologist about not having ESR or CRP tested and was told that the GP will check that the medication is not doing too much damage but not whether it is reducing inflammation.

  • I will probably be under shared care soon so this is good to know!

  • From reading other posts on here I do think that many GP's are more pro-active in shared care than mine !

  • Not mine! I had to practically beg two GPs for a prescription to tide me over till my next appointment with the rheumatologist after I fell short.

  • I am on a different therapy probably, but we do the tests every four months when I go in to see the GP. I'm trying to get her up to six, but it's a little slow - ha ha.

  • Every 4 wks for me. I have Hb, WBC, platelets, ESR, ALT, AP CRP every time.

  • I started with every month for about 6 months, then every 2 months for another half year, then every 3 months until now. I was diagnosed RA in Jun 2014, started the treatment in mid Jul 2014.

    Always complete full blood tests including ESR and CRP. I don't see any ANA test though.

  • Thank you for all your replies!

  • Hi guys still every 2 weeks for me. Been on steroids and methotrexate since April. I asked about going monthly but gp said no - they need 3 consistent readings and until then every 2 weeks it is! M x

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