Lyme Neuroborreliosis

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2015 Dec;21(6 Neuroinfectious Disease):1729-44. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000252.


Purpose of review: Lyme disease, caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States and Europe. Lyme disease usually begins with the characteristic skin lesion, erythema migrans, at the site of the tick bite. Following hematogenous dissemination, neurologic, cardiac, and/or rheumatologic involvement may occur. Neurologic involvement occurs in up to 15% of untreated B. burgdorferi infection and neurologists should be familiar with its diagnosis and management.

Recent findings: The most common early neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease are cranial neuropathy (particularly facial palsy), lymphocytic meningitis, and radiculoneuritis, which often occur in combination. Late neuroborreliosis occurs much less frequently than early disease. A combination of clinical and laboratory findings is recommended for the diagnosis of Lyme neuroborreliosis. Treatment with recommended antibiotic regimens is effective in Lyme neuroborreliosis, and patients with early disease usually have excellent outcomes. Recovery is slower and may be incomplete in patients with late disease.

Summary: Nervous system involvement occurs in up to 15% of patients with untreated B. burgdorferi infection. This article reviews clinical aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme neuroborreliosis, with focus on the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis* / diagnosis
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis* / drug therapy
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis* / physiopathology