Lyme Disease Diagnosis: Serology

Clin Lab Med. 2015 Dec;35(4):797-814. doi: 10.1016/j.cll.2015.08.001.


Serology is the mainstay of confirmation of Lyme borreliosis; direct detection has limited application. Because standardized 2-tier testing (STTT) has been commonly used since the mid 1990s, standardization and performance have improved. STTT detection of early, localized infection is poor; that of late disease is good. The best indicator of stage 1 infection, erythema migrans, is presented in the majority of US cases and should prompt treatment without testing. Clinical and epidemiologic correlates should be carefully assessed before ordering STTT. STTT has great value in confirming extracutaneous infection. Recent developments promise to improve performance, particularly in early disease detection.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease; Pitfalls; Predictive value serology; Serologic testing; Standard 2-tier testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Serologic Tests


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G