Borrelia Antibody (CSF)
Does this test have other names?
Lyme disease test (CSF)
What is this test?
This test looks for Borrelia antibodies in your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Borrelia
burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease.
The bacteria are spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick.
If not treated, Lyme disease can cause meningitis, or an infection of the tissues
covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause liver and heart problems; facial
palsy, or the inability to control facial muscles; and other complications that may
show up months or even years later. These include ongoing pain and tiredness, arthritis,
and problems with memory and concentration. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne
condition in the U.S.
This test measures the level of antibodies to the Borrelia bacteria in your CSF to
see if Lyme disease has spread to your central nervous system.
Why do I need this test?
You may have this test to find out whether Lyme disease has affected your central
nervous system. Early signs that Lyme disease has affected the nervous system include:
Meningitis, an infection of the brain's protective membranes
Nerve inflammation that causes pain
Numbness or difficulty controlling muscles in some part of your body
It's important to catch Lyme disease early because it can cause arthritis, heart and
liver problems, ongoing pain and fatigue, and chronic problems with memory and concentration.
Antibiotic treatment is effective in treating all stages of the disease.
You may also have this test to check for other tickborne illnesses.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order these tests:
Blood test to check for Borrelia antibodies
Other CSF tests, including cell count and protein and glucose levels
CSF gram stain and bacterial cultures to rule out other disease-causing germs
Nerve conduction studies to look for damage to the peripheral nervous system
Electrophysiologic testing of peripheral nerve function
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Some Borrelia antibodies in the blood are likely to spread to your CSF, so finding
them in your CSF does not necessarily mean you have central nervous system Lyme disease.
A higher level of antibodies to Lyme disease in your CSF than in your blood means
that the antibodies may be multiplying there and that the disease has spread to your
central nervous system.
You will likely be diagnosed with central nervous system Lyme disease if your test
results show most or all of these conditions:
You have higher counts of lymphocytes and/or monocytes in your CSF. These are both
types of white blood cells that may mean you have an acute infection.
Your CSF protein concentration is 200 to 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
You have a higher level of Borrelia antibodies in your CSF than in your blood after
adjusting your blood and CSF antibody tests so that both have an equal concentration
of IgG antibodies.
A negative result means that no Borrelia antibodies were found. But a negative result
of this test alone doesn't rule out the possibility of nervous system Lyme disease.
A diagnosis is usually made after looking at the results of several types of tests.
How is this test done?
This test requires a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, which is taken through a lumbar
puncture in your lower back. During this procedure, you either sit up and lean forward
or lie down on your side. A healthcare provider inserts a needle into your spine and
draws out a sample of fluid. The provider injects a numbing medicine under the skin
before the test for comfort.
Does this test pose any risks?
It's rare to develop complications after having this test. But potential risks include:
Nerve pain or numbness
Talk with your provider about the risks before the test. Be sure to tell your provider
if you've had a seizure, increased pressure in your eyes, or other health problems.
What might affect my test results?
Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.