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Alternative Names Return to topVenereal disease research laboratory slide test - CSF
Definition Return to top
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
How the Test is Performed Return to top
The test is performed on a CSF sample obtained by lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
Before the procedure, you will be asked to review the risks and sign a consent form.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
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.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
The CSF-VDRL test is used to diagnose syphilis in the brain or spinal cord. Brain and spine cord involvement usually indicates late stage (tertiary) syphilis.
Blood screening tests, such as VDRL and RPR, are more effective during middle stage (secondary) syphilis.
Normal Results Return to top
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.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
A positive result is abnormal and indicates neurosyphilis.
Risks Return to top
References Return to topU.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Syphilis Infection: Recommendation Statement. Ann Fam Med 2004; 2: 362-365. Update Date: 6/18/2007 Updated by: Mark Levin, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.