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Syphilis Tests

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Also known as: Venereal Disease Research Laboratory; VDRL; Rapid Plasma Reagin; RPR; Fluorescent Treponemal Antibody Absorption Test; FTA-ABS; Treponema pallidum Particle Agglutination Assay; TPPA; Microhemagglutination Assay; MHA-TP; Darkfield Microscopy; Automated Immunoassays for Syphilis Antibodies; Treponema pallidum by PCR
Formal name: Syphilis Detection Tests

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used. To access online sources, copy and paste the URL into your browser.

Sources Used in Current Review

(2015 June 4 Updated). 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/syphilis.htm. Accessed 4/06/16.

Vyas, J. (2014 August 31 Updated). Syphilis – primary. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000861.htm. Accessed 4/06/16.

Kaneshiro, N. (2013 December 4 Updated). Congenital syphilis. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001344.htm. Accessed 4/06/16.

Chandrasekar, P. (2016 February 16 Updated). Syphilis. Medscape Drugs and Diseases [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/229461-overview. Accessed 4/06/16.

Bronfenbrener, R. (2014 December 17 Updated). Syphilis Detection Test. Medscape Drugs and Diseases [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2093294-overview. Accessed 4/06/16.

Peterman, T. and Workowski, K. (2016 February 8). Keep an Eye Out For Ocular Syphilis. Medscape Multispecialty. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/858102. Accessed 4/06/16.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Syphilis. Available online at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/stdsyph.htm.

Centers for Disease Control: Syphilis Fact Sheet. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm.

American Social Health Association. Syphilis Fast Facts. Available online at http://www.ashastd.org/learn/learn_syphilis_facts.cfm.

Wu, A. (2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, Fourth Edition. Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, Missouri. Pp 1612-1614.

ARUP Consult. Syphilis Testing Algorithm. PDF available for download at http://search.arupconsult.com/search/. Accessed June 2009.

ARUP Consult. Treponema pallidum – Syphilis. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/InfectiousDz/Bacteria/Syphilis.html. Accessed June 2009.

MedlinePlus Medical Encylopedia: Syphilis. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001327.htm. Accessed June 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Syphilis Fact Sheet. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm. Accessed June 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STD surveillance, 2007. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats07/syphilis.htm. Accessed August 2009.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Syphilis Infection in Pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. Annals of Internal Medicine 19 May 2009, Volume 150, Issue 10, Pp 705-709.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: VRDL. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003515.htm. Accessed June 2009.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: FTA-ABS. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003512.htm. Accessed June 2009.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: RPR. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003533.htm. Accessed June 2009.

WebMD. Syphilis Tests. Available online at http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/syphilis-tests. Accessed June 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm. Last updated December 13, 2012. Accessed January 2013.

Aids.gov. Syphilis and HIV: A Dangerous Duo Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men. Available online at http://blog.aids.gov/2012/12/syphilis-and-hiv-a-dangerous-duo-affecting-gay-and-bisexual-men.html. Posted December 13, 2012. Accessed January 2013.

American Sexual Health Association. Syphilis. Available online at http://www.ashastd.org/std-sti/syphilis.html. Copyright 2012. Accessed January 2013.

WebMD. Sexual Conditions Health Center: Syphilis Tests. Available online at http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/syphilis-tests. Last Updated: September 29, 2011. Accessed January 2013.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. FTA-ABS test. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003512.htm. Last updated August 24, 2011. Accessed January 2013.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. RPR test. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003533.htm. Last updated August 14, 2012. Accessed January 2013.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. VDRL. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003515.htm. Last updated August 24, 2011. Accessed January 2013.

Liu, H et al. New Tests for Syphilis: Rational Design of a PCR Method for Detection of Treponema pallidum in Clinical Specimens Using Unique Regions of the DNA Polymerase I Gene. J Clin Microbiol. 2001 May; 39(5): 1941–1946. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88053/. Accessed January 2013.

Grange, PA et al. Evaluation of a PCR Test for Detection of Treponema pallidum in Swabs and Blood. J Clin Microbiol. 2012 March; 50(3): 546–552. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295187/. Accessed January 2013.

Zanto, Susanne Norris. Syphilis Testing Guidelines. PDF available for download at http://www.aphl.org/conferences/proceedings/Documents/2009/2009_APHL_Annual_Meeting/028Zanto.pdf. Accessed January 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. Diseases Characterized by Genital, Anal, or Perianal Ulcers. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/genital-ulcers.htm. Accessed January 2013.

Syphilis Testing Algorithms Using Treponemal Tests for Initial Screening --- Four Laboratories, New York City, 2005--2006. MMWR August 15, 2008, 57(32);872-875. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5732a2.htm. Accessed January 2013.