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Lyme disease antibody

Lyme disease antibody tests are used to help diagnose Lyme disease.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture.

A laboratory specialist will look for Lyme disease antibodies in the blood sample using the ELISA test. If the ELISA test is positive, it must be confirmed with the Western blot test.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no special preparation for the test.

How the Test Will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is performed to help confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease.

Normal Results

A negative test result is normal. This means none or few antibodies to Lyme disease were seen in your blood sample. If the ELISA test is negative, usually no other testing is needed.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A positive ELISA result is abnormal. This means antibodies were seen in your blood sample. However, this does not confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. A positive ELISA result must be followed up with a Western blot test. Only a positive Western blot test can confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease.

For many people, the ELISA test remains positive even after they have been treated for Lyme disease and no longer have symptoms.

A positive ELISA may also occur with certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Alternative Names

Lyme disease serology; ELISA for Lyme disease; Western blot for Lyme disease

References

Steere AC. Borrelia burgdorferi (lyme disease, lyme borreliosis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 242.

Update Date: 3/15/2012

Updated by: Mark Levin, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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