Syphilis Laboratory Guidelines: Performance Characteristics of Nontreponemal Antibody Tests
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Syphilis Laboratory Guidelines: Performance Characteristics of Nontreponemal Antibody Tests

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  • Alternative Title:
    Clin Infect Dis
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    We reviewed the relevant syphilis diagnostic literature to address the following question: what are the performance characteristics, stratified by the stage of syphilis, for nontreponemal serologic tests? The database search included key terms related to syphilis and nontreponemal tests from 1960-2017, and for data related to the venereal disease research laboratory test from 1940-1960. Based on this review, we report the sensitivity and specificity for each stage of syphilis (primary, secondary, early latent, late latent, or unknown duration; tertiary as well as neurosyphilis, ocular syphilis, and otic syphilis). We also report on reactive nontreponemal tests in conditions other than syphilis, false negatives, and automated nontreponemal tests. Overall, many studies were limited by their sample size, lack of clearly documented clinical staging, and lack of well-defined gold standards. There is a need to better define the performance characteristics of nontreponemal tests, particularly in the late stages of syphilis, with clinically well-characterized samples. Published data are needed on automated nontreponemal tests. Evidence-based guidelines are needed for optimal prozone titrations. Finally, improved criteria and diagnostics for neurosyphilis (as well as ocular and otic syphilis) are needed.
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