Pearls and pitfalls of allergy diagnostic testing: report from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology/American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Specific IgE Test Task Force

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Dec;101(6):580-92.


The intended purpose of this monograph is to provide a general overview of allergy diagnostics for health care professionals who care for patients with allergic disease. For a more comprehensive review of allergy diagnostic testing, readers can refer to the Allergy Diagnostic Practice Parameters. A key message is that a positive allergy test result (skin or blood) indicates only the presence of allergen specific IgE (called sensitization). It does not necessarily mean clinical allergy (ie, allergic symptoms with exposure). It is important for this reason that the allergy evaluation be based on the patient's history and directed by a health care professional with sufficient understanding of allergy diagnostic testing to use the information obtained from his/her evaluation of the patient to determine (1) what allergy diagnostic tests to order, (2) how to interpret the allergy diagnostic test results, and (3) how to use the information obtained from the allergy evaluation to develop an appropriate therapeutic treatment plan.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Allergens / analysis
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Animals
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / complications
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests
  • Skin Tests* / adverse effects
  • Skin Tests* / methods


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E