CSF Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Index: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a CSF IgG index?

CSF stands for cerebrospinal fluid. It is a clear, colorless liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system. Your central nervous system controls and coordinates everything you do, including muscle movement, organ function, and even complex thinking and planning.

IgG stands for immunoglobulin G, a type of antibody. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances. A CSF IgG index measures the levels of IgG in your cerebrospinal fluid. High levels of IgG can mean you have an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder causes your immune system to attack healthy cells, tissues, and/or organs by mistake. These disorders can cause serious health problems.

Other names: cerebrospinal fluid IgG level, cerebrospinal fluid IgG measurement CSF IgG level, IgG (Immunoglobulin G) spinal fluid, IgG synthesis rate

What is it used for?

A CSF IgG index is used to check for diseases of the central nervous system. It is often used to help diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. Many people with MS have disabling symptoms including severe fatigue, weakness, difficulty walking, and vision problems. About 80 percent of MS patients have higher than normal levels of IgG.

Why do I need a CSF IgG index?

You may need a CSF IgG index if you have symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Symptoms of MS include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tingling in the arms, legs, or face
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weak muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Bladder control problems
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Double vision
  • Changes in behavior
  • Confusion

What happens during a CSF IgG index?

Your cerebrospinal fluid will be collected through a procedure called a spinal tap, also known as a lumbar puncture. A spinal tap is usually done in a hospital. During the procedure:

  • You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
  • Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
  • Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
  • You’ll need to stay very still while the fluid is being withdrawn.
  • Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a CSF IgG index, but you may be asked to empty your bladder and bowels before the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a spinal tap. You may feel a little pinch or pressure when the needle is inserted. After the test, you may get a headache, called a post-lumbar headache. About one in 10 people will get a post-lumbar headache. This can last for several hours or up to a week or more. If you have a headache that lasts longer than several hours, talk to your health care provider. He or she may be able to provide treatment to relieve the pain.

You may feel some pain or tenderness in your back at the site where the needle was inserted. You may also have some bleeding at the site.

What do the results mean?

If your CSF IgG index shows higher than normal levels, it may indicate:

If your IgG index shows lower than normal levels, it may indicate:

  • A disorder that weakens the immune system. These disorders make it hard to fight infections.

If your IgG index results are not normal, it may not mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Results can vary depending on a variety of factors including your age and overall health, and medicines you are taking. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a CSF IgG index?

The CSF IgG index is often used to help diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is not specifically an MS test. There is no single test that can tell you whether you have MS. If your health care provider thinks you have MS, you will probably have several other tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.

While there is no cure for MS, there are many treatments available that can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

References

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  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Glossary: Allergy and Asthma [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/allergy_and_asthma/glossary__allergy_and_asthma_85,p00018#I
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Lumbar Puncture (LP) [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/neurological/lumbar_puncture_lp_92,p07666
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  10. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Multiple-Sclerosis-Hope-Through-Research#3215_4
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  12. National Multiple Sclerosis Society [Internet]. National Multiple Sclerosis Society; MS Symptoms [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms
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  14. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: Quantitative Immunoglobulins [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=quantitative_immunoglobulins
  15. UW Health: American Family Children’s Hospital [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Kids Health: Spinal Tap [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealthkids.org/kidshealth/en/parents/lumbar-puncture.html/
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