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Some of the common lab tests used for diagnosing SARS include the PCR test, serologic testing, and viral culture. In order to make an accurate SARS diagnosis, your doctor will also ask for a medical history and perform a physical exam prior to conducting the lab tests.

An Introduction to Diagnosing SARS

In order to make a SARS diagnosis, your doctor will ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and recommend certain tests. As part of diagnosing SARS, the doctor will also rule out other possible causes of SARS symptoms.
If you are at high risk for SARS, your healthcare provider will recommend certain lab tests.

SARS Diagnostic Tests

Several laboratory tests can be used to detect the SARS virus. These tests include:
  • PCR Test
  • Serologic testing
  • Viral culture.
PCR Test
A PCR test (or polymerase chain reaction) is a laboratory test than can detect the genetic material of the SARS virus in specimens from a patient's blood, stool, or nasal secretions. This type of testing has become an essential tool for detecting infectious disease agents.
Serologic Testing
A serologic test is a laboratory test that looks for antibodies to the SARS virus in the blood. Antibodies are substances made by the body's immune system to fight a specific infection.
Viral Culture
For a viral culture, a small sample of tissue or fluid that may be infected is placed in a container along with cells in which the SARS virus can grow. If the SARS virus grows in the culture, it will cause changes in the cells that can be seen under a microscope.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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