The Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine will be offering a Borrelia culture test by late October 2011, for under $1000 including the office visit to discuss test results. The test is provided by Advanced Laboratory Services, a CLIA certified laboratory in Pennsylvania, and should be reimbursable through most insurance carriers - although the laboratory itself will not submit any invoices.
The test can pick up both Borrelia burgdorferi and also other Borrelia species – in fact it can identify all varieties of spirochetes. Results should be available within 7-10 days of the specimen’s arrival in the laboratory.If the test is positive, additional PCR and DNA sequencing testing may be done at an additional charge, to further identify the organism involved.
|Image from the NY State Dept of Health|
The advantage of this form of testing is that it is a direct culture test, not an indirect immunochemistry test. The disadvantage is that Borrelia is a parasite, grows very slowly, and is very difficult to culture – requires a living organism in which to grow. So if the test is positive, it’s definitely gives a positive diagnosis of spirochete infection – which can be confirmed with immunohistochemistry in order to diagnose the exact spirochete which was cultured. If the test is negative, then we’re back to square one again, attempting to prove a diagnosis.
The advice of the lab is to do several blood cultures – the way we generally do for standard blood cultures. If you elect to do two or three cultures, there is a price break for the second and subsequent, as long as they are done on the same day.