The Lyme Disease Antibody (IgG), Immunoblot test contains 1 test with 11 biomarkers.
Brief Description: The Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test, often referred to as the Lyme Western Blot, is a laboratory test used to detect antibodies against the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. It is a highly specific method that can detect and visualize antibodies targeting individual protein components of the bacterium.
Collection Method: Blood Draw
Specimen Type: Serum
Test Preparation: No preparation required
When and Why a Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot Test May Be Ordered
The Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test is often ordered as a confirmatory test when a preliminary screening test for Lyme disease, like the enzyme immunoassay (EIA), yields positive or equivocal results. The test is typically ordered for individuals presenting with signs and symptoms consistent with Lyme disease, especially if they have a history of exposure in areas known for tick-borne illnesses.
What a Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot Test Checks For
This test checks for the presence of IgG antibodies specific to Borrelia burgdorferi proteins. These antibodies typically appear weeks to months after the onset of infection and can remain detectable for years, even after successful treatment. The immunoblot can identify antibodies to specific protein bands, which adds to the specificity of the diagnosis.
Other Lab Tests Ordered Alongside a Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot Test
If Lyme disease is suspected, a doctor may initially order an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) as a screening test. If this test yields positive or equivocal results, then the immunoblot test (both IgG and IgM) will typically be ordered for confirmation. Other potential tests include:
- Lyme Disease IgM Antibody Immunoblot: Often done concurrently with the IgG test, it detects IgM antibodies which generally appear earlier in the infection.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This test directly detects the DNA of the bacterium and can be useful in certain situations, like testing joint fluid in cases of Lyme arthritis.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): To check for signs of infection or inflammation.
- Joint Fluid Analysis: If arthritis is a prominent symptom, testing the synovial fluid from affected joints can be helpful.
Conditions or Diseases Requiring a Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot Test
The primary condition requiring this test is suspected Lyme disease. Lyme disease can present with a range of symptoms, the most iconic of which is the erythema migrans rash (often described as a "bull's-eye" rash). Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. In the later stages, patients may experience arthritis, neurologic abnormalities, and cardiac involvement.
How Health Care Providers Use the Results of a Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot Test
Health care providers use the results of the immunoblot to confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease, especially when preliminary tests are positive or inconclusive:
Positive Result: If specific antibody bands are detected, it is evidence of exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi. However, a clinical correlation is crucial, as antibodies can persist for years after the disease has been treated.
Negative Result: A negative result, especially when paired with a negative screening test, suggests that the patient does not have Lyme disease or it's too early in the course of the disease for antibodies to be detectable.
Inconclusive Result: In some cases, the test may yield an indeterminate result. This may require further testing or monitoring of symptoms.
The results should always be interpreted in the context of the patient's clinical symptoms and exposure history.
Most Common Questions About the Lyme Disease Antibody (IgG), Immunoblot test:
Purpose and Clinical Indications
Why is the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test performed?
The Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test is used to detect antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease. It's typically ordered as a follow-up to a positive or equivocal enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test to confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. It helps provide a more specific result and reduces the likelihood of false-positive outcomes.
How does the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test differ from the initial EIA test for Lyme disease?
The initial EIA test for Lyme disease screens for antibodies against the Lyme-causing bacteria, but it can sometimes produce false-positive results or be influenced by other conditions. The Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test, on the other hand, checks for specific patterns of antibody response to the bacteria, making it a more definitive confirmatory test.
Interpretation of Results
What does a positive Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test result mean?
A positive Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test indicates the presence of antibodies specific to Borrelia burgdorferi, suggesting a past or current infection with the bacteria. However, it's essential to consider the test result in the context of clinical symptoms and the patient's history of possible exposure to Lyme-infected ticks.
If the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test is negative, can Lyme disease still be present?
If the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test is negative, it typically means that the patient does not have antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, suggesting that they don't have Lyme disease. However, if the test is taken too early in the disease's course, the body might not have produced detectable antibodies yet. Therefore, clinical judgment, considering the patient's symptoms and potential exposure, remains crucial.
After a positive Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test result, what are the treatment options?
Following a positive Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test result, the standard treatment is antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin. The length and type of treatment may vary based on the disease's stage and the patient's specific symptoms.
Is there a risk of false positives or negatives with the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test?
Yes, while the Lyme Disease IgG Antibody Immunoblot test is more specific than the initial EIA test, there is still a possibility of false positives or negatives. For example, other infections or conditions can produce antibodies that cross-react with the Lyme bacteria antigens, leading to a false positive. On the other hand, testing too early before antibodies have formed, or in patients with suppressed immune responses, might result in a false negative. It's always essential to interpret the test results in the context of clinical findings and patient history.
We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.