Lyme arthritis in children and adolescents: outcome 12 months after initiation of antibiotic therapy

J Rheumatol. 2000 Aug;27(8):2025-30.


Objective: Lyme arthritis in children and adolescents due to infection with Borrelia burgdorferi responds well to intravenous and oral antibiotics, but nonresponders have been described with all antibiotic regimens tested and a standard therapy has not yet been established. We examined causes of the failure of antibiotic treatment in the presence of persistent organisms and autoimmune mechanisms.

Methods: A prospective multicenter study was carried out in 55 children and adolescents with Lyme arthritis.

Results: There were significant differences between younger and older patients with pediatric Lyme arthritis. Younger patients were more likely to have fever at the onset of arthritis and to have acute or episodic arthritis. Older patients were more likely to have chronic arthritis, higher levels of IgG antibodies to B. burgdorferi (by ELISA and immunoblot), and a longer interval between antibiotic treatment and the disappearance of arthritis. Of 51 patients followed for at least 12 months after initiation of antibiotic treatment, 24% retained manifestations of the disease including arthritis (8 patients) and arthralgias (4 patients). These patients were predominantly female (9/12) and were significantly older than patients without residual symptoms. Patients who had received intraarticular steroids prior to antibiotic treatment required significantly more courses of antibiotic treatment and the time required for disappearance of the arthritis was longer.

Conclusion: Pediatric Lyme arthritis is more benign in younger children. Lyme arthritis should be excluded as a possible cause of arthritis prior to the administration of intraarticular steroids.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / physiopathology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / drug effects
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / isolation & purification
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy*
  • Lyme Disease / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Roxithromycin / therapeutic use
  • Steroids
  • Synovectomy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Steroids
  • Roxithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Doxycycline