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Syphilis Serology

Alias: VDRL, TP, Treponema pallidum, T pallidum

Discipline: Virology

Test information: Syphilis is caused by infection with the bacterium Treponema pallidum which can be transmitted congenitally or by sexual contact. The disease can evolve into a latent phase in which syphilis is clinically inapparent. Serological tests (nontreponemal and treponemal specific), in addition to patients' clinical history, are currently the primary methods for the diagnosis and management of syphilis. Newly reactive samples are sent to reference laboratory for confirmatory testing.

Availability: Available locally Monday - Friday during routine hours: 08:45 - 17:15.

Turnaround Time: 3 Days

Specimen Type(s)
  • Clotted blood;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Gold Top SST BD;
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Plain Top Sarstedt;
  • Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR);
  • Treponema pallidum antibodies;
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
5 - 10mL
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport
  • Minimum-clotting time 30 minutes.
  • Specimens should be transported to the laboratory as soon as possible.
  • Outside of normal hours samples should be refrigerated (2 °C to 8 °C).
  • Please indicate if patient is contact of a known positive.
  • Please provide exposure details including date of contact.
  • For antenatal screening samples, consent to test must be obtained.
  • Do NOT send grossly haemolyzed specimens (>500 mg/dL haemoglobin).
  • Do NOT send specimens with obvious microbial contamination.
Maximum add on time
Units and Reference Ranges / Interpretation
Syphilis Results: Non-reactive / Reactive
A negative result does not preclude the possibility of exposure to infection with syphilis, additional information may be required for diagnosis.
UKAS number
UKAS accredited test?
False positive results can be expected with any test kit. The proportion of these falsely reactive specimens is dependent upon the specificity of the test kit, specimen integrity, and the characteristics of the local population being screened.
If results are inconsistent with clinical evidence, additional testing is suggested to confirm the result.

If you have any queries about a test or results interpretation please contact us.

Last updated: 06-06-2023