Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Detection of specific antibodies in serum in infections with Treponema pallidum. A distinction is made between
:Non-specific and specific reactions.

  • Search, confirmation and progress reactions:
    • Search reaction: TPHA test, VDRL.
    • Confirmatory reaction: FTA test, FTA-Abs test (gold standard of confirmatory test procedures).
    • Follow-up, assessment of infection activity and titer determination can be performed by VDRL and cardiolipin-KBR. The detection of IgM antibodies against Treponema pallidum can also be performed by IgM FTA-Abs test or by 19S IgM-FTA test.
  • are of importance in diagnostics today:
    • TPHA test (Treponema pallidum hemaglutination test): screening test with high specificity (0.2% false reactive findings). Detection of IgM and IgG antibodies. Reaction in all phases of the disease. Positive from the 3rd postinfection week. Low titers persist for life.
    • FTA test (Flurescence Treponema Pallidum Antibody Absorption Test): High specificity and sensitivity (false reactive findings in 1%). With the 19S IgM FTA Abs Abs test, fresh infections can be diagnosed from the 2nd postinfection week.
    • VDRL: Non-specific but quantitatively evaluable for activity and success assessment. Titres above 1:10 indicate active syphilis. Positive test from the 5th week post infection. Time course and correlation with the clinic: S.u. Syphilis acquisita.

Notice! In principle, the serological diagnosis of syphilis should combine non-specific with specific test procedures, such as the VDRL test and/or the TPHA test as a screening test in combination with the FTA-Abs test as a confirmatory test.


Last updated on: 29.10.2020