Also known as Venereal Disease Research Laboratory Test or Syphilis screening test
Why test for VDRL
VDRL lab test helps to screen for or diagnose an infection with the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The bacterium infects by penetrating into the lining of the mouth or genital area. The VDRL test doesn’t look for the bacteria that cause syphilis. Instead, it checks for the antibodies your body makes in response to antigens produced by cells damaged by the bacteria. Antibodies are a type of protein produced by your immune system to fight off invaders like bacteria or toxins. Testing for these antibodies can let your doctors know whether you have syphilis. You don’t need to have the symptoms of syphilis for this test to be accurate. Because it checks for antibodies produced as a result of a syphilis infection, the VDRL test can be used regardless of whether you currently have any symptoms. Your doctor will most likely order a VDRL test if there’s a chance you have syphilis. Early symptoms that may prompt your doctor to order this test include: one small, painless sore swelling in lymph nodes near the sore a skin rash that doesn’t itch In other cases, your doctor may screen for syphilis even if you don’t have any symptoms or reasons to think you have the disease. For example, your doctor will screen for syphilis as a routine part of your care if you’re pregnant. This is a standard procedure, and it doesn’t mean your doctor thinks you have syphilis. Your doctor may also test you for syphilis if you’re being treated for another STI such as gonorrhea, if you’re infected with HIV, or if you’ve engaged in high-risk sexual activity. If you’ve already been treated for syphilis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend follow-up testing to be sure that the treatment worked and the infection has been cured.