An evaluation of serum allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) testing found that only 7 out of 89 tests conducted demonstrated clinical usefulness. The study was published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine.
Conducted by Calgary Laboratory Services, the study found that these commonly-ordered allergy tests are often inaccurate and can have detrimental effects on patients’ lives.
The testing evaluated test procedures and results, scaling specificity and sensitivity findings, and included tests of several types of allergens including food, inhalents, drugs, venoms, latex, and more. The types of allergens being tested for often determined the efficacy of serum IgE testing. Food allergies, specifically, were found to be better suited to skin prick testing for more reliable results.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology agrees.
The AAAAI has joined with the Choosing Wisely campaign against using indiscriminate IgE testing to evaluate allergies. The study authors say that the poor performance of serum allergen-specific IgE tests should be avoided when diagnosing and treating suspected food allergies.