Background: Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid is required in order to diagnose Lyme neuroborreliosis. We investigated the symptoms of patients in a highly endemic area who were referred for evaluation of possible Lyme neuroborreliosis, and explored whether cerebrospinal fluid analysis confirmed or ruled out the diagnosis.
Method: We reviewed the medical records of all patients who underwent lumbar puncture at Sørlandet Hospital Arendal in the period 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2013.
Results: A total of 140 patients were referred with suspected Lyme neuroborreliosis. Of these, 110 patients had non-specific neurological symptoms (e.g. fatigue, dizziness and headache), only one of whom received a diagnosis of possible Lyme neuroborreliosis. Thirty patients had symptoms typical of the condition (such as radiculitis or peripheral facial nerve palsy). Six of these were diagnosed with definite Lyme neuroborreliosis, and one with possible Lyme neuroborreliosis. None of those diagnosed with Lyme neuroborreliosis had had symptoms lasting more than six months.
Interpretation: The probability of Lyme neuroborreliosis is low in the absence of typical symptoms of the condition, even when anti-Borrelia antibodies are detected in serum and especially when the symptoms are of long duration.