Clinical investigations from the RACP

Investigation of the patient with suspected allergy

Catherine Toong, John Quin



Investigating IgE-mediated allergy usually involves interpretation of skin prick testing and serum allergen-specific IgE testing in the context of the patient’s history and physical examination.

Key Points

  • Investigation for IgE-mediated hypersensitivity usually takes the form of skin prick testing and/or serum-specific IgE testing.
  • Skin prick testing is the gold standard for detection of allergen-specific IgE; however, testing for serum-specific IgE is more readily available in the primary care setting.
  • Tests should always be interpreted in the context of a thorough history and physical examination.
  • False-negative serum-specific IgE tests occur, and a negative serum test should not be used to exclude allergy if the history suggests immediate hypersensitivity.