Feature Article

Systemic lupus erythematosus: an overview for GPs

Leslie Schrieber, Sean O’Neill



Systemic lupus erythematous is a multisystem disease with manifestations ranging from trivial to life threatening. It is a chronic condition, and affected patients require careful follow up.

Key Points

  • The diagnosis of SLE can be simple, but at times SLE can masquerade as other conditions such as infection or malignancy.
  • A positive ANA test is not diagnostic alone of SLE; it is one of the 11 criteria, four of which are needed for definite diagnosis.
  • As SLE is uncommon and has very variable clinical expression, it is important that care is shared between the GP and appropriate specialists.
  • Management must be tailored to the individual, reserving immunosuppression for those with life threatening organ involvement.
  • As survival of patients with SLE has improved, managing the late manifestations of the disease and minimising the adverse effects of treatment have become a growing challenge.