Objectives: Lyme disease is an infectious disease that frequently involves the central nervous system, leading to cognitive and/or mood dysfunction. The basis for these symptoms remains to be defined but may be the result of a vasculitis or metabolic abnormality secondary to the infection. SPECT scans of the brain might provide an objective measure of abnormalities present in patients with otherwise difficult to objectify clinical findings. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency, location, and severity of abnormalities in SPECT scans of the brain of patients with chronic Lyme disease.
Methods: A total of 183 individuals who met the clinical definition of chronic Lyme disease underwent SPECT scanning of the brain using Tc and standard nuclear imagine techniques. Abnormalities of perfusion to affected areas of the brain were defined as mild, moderate, or severe.
Results: Of all patients, 75% demonstrated abnormalities in perfusion to various areas of the brain, most notably the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Patients considered to be seropositive and those considered seronegative had similar rates, types, and severity of perfusion defects. Abnormalities of MRI of the brain were seen in 14% of patients. Treatment with antibiotics, especially those with intracellular-penetrating activity, resulted in resolution or improvement of abnormalities in 70% of patients over a 1- to 2-year period.
Conclusions: Brain SPECT scans are abnormal in most patients with chronic Lyme disease, and these scans can be used to provide objective evidence in support of the clinical diagnosis. The use of certain antibiotic regimens seems to provide improvement in both clinical status and SPECT scans.