Alternate Names : Syphilis Test, Venereal Disease Laboratory Test of the Cerebrospinal Fluid, Spinal Fluid Venereal Disease Test
This is a test for a sexually transmitted disease called
The test is done on a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, which is called CSF.
CSF fills the space between the brain and spinal cord and the membranes
that surround them. The test can detect antibodies to the germ that
causes syphilis. An antibody is a protein that the body produces in
response to a foreign substance.
Who is a candidate for the test?
A doctor may want to perform this test if he or she suspects a
person has syphilis that involves the central nervous system, the brain,
or the spinal cord.
How is the test performed?
To perform the CSF VDRL test, a sample of cerebrospinal
fluid is usually collected by a spinal tap, which is
also called a lumbar puncture. This procedure is done in the hospital.
The person lies on his or her side with the knees bent. An area on the
lower back above lumbar vertebrae 3 and 4 is cleaned and sterilized. Next,
the area is injected with a local anesthetic, a drug designed to numb the
area to pain. When the area is numb, a needle is gently inserted between
the vertebrae into the fluid-filled space around the spinal cord. A small
sample of the fluid is removed. It is then sent to the laboratory for testing.
The person is asked to lie flat for several hours after the test. This can
help prevent some of the side effects of the test, such as headache.