Monday, December 3, 2012

About the Advanced Labs Spirochete Culture test.

There is a new test on the block for confirming active infection with borrelia. Until this test appeared, even the best testing (such as through Igenex) looked only for the antibodies that Lyme infection would trigger the immune system to generate. In a way, it's like looking for an echo of an infection, rather than for the invading critter itself. Furthermore, if your immune system is really not functioning correctly, it may not have the strength to mount an adequate defense, so antibodies may not be created, and an antibody test may have false negative results.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are more accurate, because they look for actual pieces of DNA of a pathogen such as borrelia. That's more like looking for a fingerprint at a crime scene. You know for certain someone has been there, and recently. See this Wiki aabout PCR for more detail:

Before a PCR test, the patient will take a batch of antibiotics in hopes of killing some borrelia bacteria. This would, theoretically, result in breaking up the bacteria into bits and pieces. These remains will be excreted through various means (if the detox pathways are working well enough), such as through urine. The patient collects some urine and sends it to a lab for processing.

Getting a positive PCR result from the lab has been the gold standard for diagnosing Lyme. It proves that borrelia (Lyme) bacteria are present in the patient NOW, not an echo of a past infection. However, getting a positive PCR is difficult because borrelia spirochetes are crafty and can hide out in internal organs, cysts and biofilms where antibiotics can't reach.

This is where a new test, developed by Advanced Laboratory Services, comes in. It is a 'culture' test. This new test is a blood test that, theoretically, can find even more of a 'smoking gun' than the PCR does. Instead of finding bits and pieces of dead borrelia, it actually tries to grow borellia in a lab dish that is filled with a sample of your blood. Using various tests, such as looking at smears of the blood under a microscope, the lab can tell you if the blood sample actually has living, functioning borellia spirochetes in it.

The following is a description from Advanced Labs, explaining how to get the test.


How may I obtain a blood collection kit for the Spirochete/Borrelia test?
We will provide blood collection kits directly to physicians' offices. We ask that interested patients contact their doctors in order to obtain kits from Advanced Laboratory Services. There is no initial charge for the collection kits, and kits cannot be sent directly to patients.

What is the cost for the test, and how may I pay for it?

Advanced Laboratory Services charges $595 USD for the Basic Spirochete/Borrelia test - this is in addition to any collection and processing fees the practitioner may charge. The test is paid for by the patient (check or credit card), and may be reimbursed partly by some insurance carriers. The requisition form supplied in the blood collection kit includes all payment information.

Where is the test available?

Advanced Laboratory Services is pleased to announce that the Borrelia Blood Culture is now available for clinical use in 49 states.

Please Note:
It is NOT yet available in the state of New York- currently applications have been filed and are pending. Unfortunately, international samples (including Canada and Mexico) cannot yet be accepted. We hope to offer testing to Canadian patients in the near future, and will issue a press release as soon as this is available.

Why Do A Culture?

A culture is a direct test. It will tell you whether the infection is present, and is more accurate than a serology (ELISA and Western Blot), which is not a direct test and at best can only indicate prior exposure. For example, in diagnosing a urinary tract infection, do you test the blood for antibodies to E. coli, or do you culture the urine? The obvious answer also applies to diagnosing infection due to Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). Cultures are more useful and give more information.

Who may order this test?

Based on the laws of Pennsylvania where we are located, it must be ordered by a medical practitioner defined by them as an MD, DO, CRNP, PA-C, and Certified Nurse Midwife. If you are an ND, and even if you may order tests in the state in which you practice, you still will need to have the test ordered by the type of practitioner on Pennsylvania's approved list. Note that it also cannot be ordered directly by the patient. The practitioner must request a blood drawing kit from Advanced Labs, and once the specimen is drawn, it must be received by us within 24 hours. Please refer to the collection guidelines, below.

What are the guidelines for blood collection to ensure the highest culture yield?

Patients should be antibiotic-free for at least 4 weeks prior to collection.
Have symptoms and/or signs of active disease at the time of blood draw
Patient samples MUST be drawn and shipped Monday - Thursday. Do NOT send any samples on Friday or Saturday as the lab is not open on weekends!

Blood must reach the lab within 24 hours of being drawn!!! Be sure to send the specimen out the same day it is collected, and use the FedEx overnight mailers we provide in the kits.

It is suggested that the blood draw be scheduled for the afternoons if possible because that is when spirochetemia is more likely. However, be sure that FedEx will do an afternoon pickup for you.

Does the laboratory participate in clinical research?

It is the position of the lab that our function is to provide these incredibly useful tests, and to refine them continually over time. We are aware that the availability of this testing method opens up new avenues of clinical research that may help answer the many remaining questions that clinicians and patients face every day. If a well designed and powered study were to be set up, then the lab would be most cooperative in assisting as it is able.

Have a question? Let us know.

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