Sunday, January 20, 2013

Vectra-DA - Testing Proteins for RA Patients

In October, I saw my rheumatologist for my regularly scheduled appointment.  We discussed my current blood work which except for white blood cells staying a little higher than she would like, everything else looked amazing.  My SED rate and c-reactive protein have been consistently low and my liver looks good.  She did share that the last round of hand x-rays showed some changes and she wanted to run a new blood test on me.  She shared that even though I am feeling well overall and my blood work is coming back great, my RA could still be progressing and she wanted to run a newer test on me called Vectra-DA.  According to their site, "Vectra DA works by measuring the levels of 12 important proteins in your blood." 

It takes several weeks for the results to come back and what they sent me wasn't very detailed except to give me a number and say that my RA is now moderately active.  On Friday I saw my rheumatologist to talk more about the test.  First, I wanted to verify that the charges for the test would be covered.  She assured me again that after insurance pays it part on the almost $1,000 bill, Vectra-DA will cover the rest.  (RELIEF!!!)  I then asked her if she learned enough from the test that she felt it was worth the price.  She definitely did.  According to my rheumy, there aren't enough tests available right now to chart our progression.  SED rates and c-reactive proteins can easily be influenced by colds and other inflammation we have in our bodies.  With the Vectra DA she can tell which proteins are being blocked which help her know if we are on the right track with medications.  With a score of 20 or under, a rheumatologist knows they are on the right track and medications are working well.  I have a score of 30, which is still good. (Yay me!) This score and the information she received allows her to see which proteins are and are not being blocked.  (As someone who has fought medications for over half my diagnosis time, I still feel a little sick to my stomach thinking of something being blocked in my body on purpose.  It may be blocking the RA from progressing, but I still wonder if it is blocking something that I need. Oh well, another topic for another day.)  From the test she is able to see that Enbrel is working as planned for the most part.  She can also tell that another protein is not being blocked and if down the line I find I am having more flares than I do now, we can switch to or add a medication that will block those proteins.    

Her plan for now is to run the test every six months as long as it is being paid for so that we can see what direction my RA is going.  I like this idea.  I like that she has something that just might give a better picture of what is happening with my body.  It gives me hope that a lot of others in pain might find the missing link to why certain medications are not working for them.

At the appointment we also discussed my trigger fingers which seem to be getting worse.  She reminded me that if they get too difficult, we can do a cortisone shot.   While I have accepted I need medications for now, I am still at a point that things will have to be worse for me than they are now to do an injection.  As my young rheumy also reminded me of, I need to be more observant to when the trigger fingers are acting up.  Is weather affecting them?  Food?  Stress?  Unfortunately, I think it might be stress.  :(  I'm working on that one.

Has anyone else had the Vectra-DA?  I am curious as to what others think of this test.