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Syphilis test, non-treponemal antibody; qualitative (eg, VDRL, RPR, ART)

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Syphilis Test, Non-Treponemal Antibody; Qualitative (e.g., VDRL, RPR, ART)


The syphilis test is a screening blood test used to detect the presence of non-treponemal antibodies, which are produced in response to the bacteria Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. The VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory), RPR (Rapid Plasma Reagin), and ART (Automated Reagin Test) are common types of these tests.


The syphilis test aims to identify and diagnose syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection. The primary goal is to detect the infection early to prevent complications and transmission.


  • Unexplained skin rashes or sores, particularly on the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Enlarged lymph nodes, fever, and fatigue
  • Routine screening during pregnancy
  • Individuals with high-risk sexual behavior or exposed to a partner diagnosed with syphilis


  • No special preparation, such as fasting, is required.
  • Patients should inform their healthcare provider of any medications they are taking.

Procedure Description

  1. Blood Sample Collection: A healthcare professional will clean the area (usually the inside of the elbow) with an antiseptic wipe.
  2. Venipuncture: A needle will be inserted into a vein to draw a blood sample.
  3. Labeling and Processing: The sample is labeled and sent to the laboratory for analysis using VDRL, RPR, or ART methods to detect antibodies.


The blood sample collection takes about 5-10 minutes. Laboratory analysis may take a few hours to a couple of days.


The procedure is typically performed in an outpatient clinic, doctor's office, or laboratory.


  • Phlebotomist or nurse for blood sample collection
  • Laboratory technicians for sample analysis

Risks and Complications

  • Minor discomfort or bruising at the puncture site
  • Rarely, infection at the puncture site


  • Early detection of syphilis allows for prompt treatment.
  • Prevents the serious health complications associated with untreated syphilis.
  • Reduces the risk of spreading the infection to others.


  • Little to no recovery time is needed.
  • Patients can resume normal activities immediately after the blood draw.


  • Treponemal tests (e.g., FTA-ABS, TP-PA) which directly detect antibodies against Treponema pallidum.
    • Pros: More specific for syphilis.
    • Cons: More expensive and not usually used for initial screening.

Patient Experience

  • Patients might feel a brief sting or pinch when the needle is inserted.
  • Most people experience minimal discomfort and can return to their daily activities right away.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can be taken if minor pain or bruising occurs.

Medical Policies and Guidelines for Syphilis test, non-treponemal antibody; qualitative (eg, VDRL, RPR, ART)

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