The Syphilis Test (VDRL, RPR, FTA) is routinely performed for pregnant women in the early part of pregnancy, because infection of the developing foetus can result in serious malformations. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that may have medical consequences many years after the initial infection. It is relatively rare in Australia nowadays.
How the Test is Performed
The Syphilis Test (VDRL, RPR, FTA) requires a few millilitres of venous blood. It uses various laboratory methods to directly or indirectly identify the bacterium Treponema pallidum or the body's response to infection - antibodies.
Medical Conditions and Symptoms
The Syphilis Test (VDRL, RPR, FTA) may be performed in newborn babies, usually as part of a screen for congenital (acquired before birth) infections. In adults, the infection starts as a painless genital ulcer, followed by a widespread skin rash and swollen glands (lymphadenopathy) some 3 to 6 weeks later - known as secondary syphilis. Tertiary syphilis occurs in some patients after a variable period of time, and causes widespread danage to the nervous system, heart, eyes, bones and joints. Infection of the nervous system, known as neurosyphilis, can cause personality change, unsteady gait, stroke, visual symptoms or dementia.
Test Results Explained
A NEGATIVE Syphilis Test (VDRL, RPR, FTA) means that the infection has not been detected in the body - a normal test result.
A POSITIVE test for Syphilis means that the infection is present in the body, although some types of test may give a FALSE POSITIVE result, especially in the presence of some auto-immune diseases.
- Sexual Health Physician
- Infectious Disease Physician
- General Physician
- General Practitioner (GP)
- Blood Test (venesection)
Also Known As