The CSF-VDRL test is used to diagnose neurosyphilis. This test looks for antibodies called reagins, which are sometimes produced by the body in reaction to the syphilis-causing bacteria.
See also: VDRL
Venereal disease research laboratory slide test - CSF
The test is performed on a CSF sample obtained by lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
Before the procedure, you will be asked to review the risks and sign a consent form.
Usually, discomfort associated with the lumbar puncture is mild to moderate. The entire procedure usually takes about 30 minutes but may take longer. The actual fluid collection only takes a few minutes.
The CSF-VDRL test is used to diagnose syphilis in the brain or spinal cord. Brain and spinal cord involvement usually indicates late stage (tertiary) syphilis.
Blood screening tests, such as VDRL and RPR, are more effective during middle stage (secondary) syphilis.
A negative result is normal.
However, false-negatives can occur. This means you can have syphilis and have a normal CSF-VDRL test result. Therefore, a negative test does not always rule out the disease. Other markers of inflammation, such as elevated protein levels or excess white blood cells, may be used to diagnose neurosyphilis.
A positive result is abnormal and indicates neurosyphilis.
Risks of lumbar puncture include:
Hook EW III. Syphilis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 340.
Fletcher JJ, Nathan BR. Cerebrospinal fluid and intracranial pressure. In: Goetz, CG, eds. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 26.
Review Date: 7/27/2009
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