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CSF-VDRL test

  • Definition
    • The CSF-VDRL test is used to help diagnose neurosyphilis. It looks for substances called antibodies, which are sometimes produced by the body in reaction to the syphilis-causing bacteria.

  • Alternative Names
    • Venereal disease research laboratory slide test - CSF

  • How the Test is Performed
  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • Follow the health care provider's instructions on how to prepare for this test.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • The CSF-VDRL test is done to diagnose syphilis in the brain or spinal cord. Brain and spinal cord involvement is often a sign of late-stage syphilis.

      Blood screening tests (VDRL and RPR) are better at detecting middle-stage (secondary) syphilis.

  • Normal Results
    • A negative result is normal.

      False-negatives can occur. This means you can have syphilis even if this test is normal. Therefore, a negative test does not always rule out the infection. Other signs and tests may be used to diagnose neurosyphilis.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
    • A positive result is abnormal and is a sign of neurosyphilis.

  • References
    • LaSala PR, Smith MB. Spirochete infections. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 59.

      Radolf JD, Tramont EC, Salazar JC. Syphilis (Treponema pallidum). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 239.