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VDRL Test: Purpose, Procedure and Results



The VDRL test is a blood screening test used to detect syphilis. Syphilis is an STI that can cause serious health problems if not treated. This means you must look for testing if you are experiencing even minor symptoms! This is when VDRL tests come in as an aid!

The VDRL test can help determine if you have syphilis and, if you do, how severe the infection is. The test results will also help your doctor decide on the best treatment for you. Wait! Don’t just go away without finding out everything you must know about these tests.

What is The VDRL Test? 

The VDRL, or Venereal Disease Research Laboratory test, is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of syphilis. The test works by looking for antibodies in your blood sample specific to syphilis. If these antibodies are present in your blood sample, it indicates that you are infected with the bacteria that causes syphilis. 

The test is often used as a screening test for syphilis, as it is relatively quick and easy to perform. However, it is not 100% accurate and may sometimes give false-positive results. For this reason, you might need a confirmatory test (such as the RPR test) to make a confirmed diagnosis of syphilis. Treatment for syphilis typically involves antibiotics, and you must get the treatment as soon as possible to prevent serious complications.

Purpose of VDRL Test

If you have a painless sore and swelling in your lymph nodes, it may be time for a VDRL test. This is because early symptoms of syphilis include: 

  • Minor skin infection without itching or burning sensation
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes near the sores 

A VDRL test is usually done as a routine prenatal care check, irrespective of whether the patient has any symptoms or not.

Who Should Get a VDRL Test?

The VDRL test is often used as part of a routine STI screening programme for sexually active people. It is also recommended for pregnant women, as syphilis can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy. In addition, the VDRL test may be used to diagnose someone who has symptoms of syphilis, such as a rash or sores. If the test returns positive, further testing will be needed to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the best course of treatment.

The Procedure of The VDRL Test

The healthcare professional will draw your blood and send the sample for testing. There are no restrictions on what you eat or drink before the VDRL test. If your doctor wants any specific restrictions to be followed before the test, they’ll let you know ahead of time. 

In addition to blood tests, spinal fluid can also be tested as diseases like syphilis may spread into the brain tissue as well. This is why it's important for patients and healthcare professionals to know how far along the infection has gone. This could help make decisions about further treatments.

Result of The VDRL Test

You can safely ignore a result that comes back negative for syphilis antibodies.

However, your doctor may recommend a specific test to confirm the results if they come positive.

A treponemal test is used to confirm a positive result of an anti-syphilis antibody blood test. The treponemal tests are used to check if you have developed specific antibodies in response to the disease-causing organism, Treponema pallidum.

Risks/Drawbacks Involved in Taking a VDRL Test

A VDRL test is used to detect the presence of syphilis in a person's blood. While the test is generally considered to be accurate, there are a few potential risks that should be considered before taking the test.

  • First, false positives can occur, particularly in people who may have recently undergone a syphilis infection.
  • Second, the test can only provide a general indication of infection; it cannot determine whether the infection is active or inactive.
  • Finally, the test may not be able to detect very early infections. Overall, the risks associated with taking a VDRL test are relatively low, but it is important to be aware of these risks before taking the test.
  • Other risks involved include hematoma, infection, fainting because of blood drawing, etc.

Chances of False Report

Although the VDRL test is considered accurate, sometimes it will generate false positives and negatives. A survey from 2016 showed that among 1926 patients, about 52 had genuinely positive results, while 11 also reported being infected with syphilis even though they did not have any symptoms at all. 


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be cured with proper treatment. However, if you don't take care of it immediately and ignore the symptoms, it could cause significant harm to multiple organs, such as the brain and the heart. The VDRL test isn’t always accurate, but it helps to determine whether or not we have an infection. If you are doubtful about having this sexually transmitted infection, you should get tested as soon as possible! Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics if it’s caught at the right time. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems, including blindness and death.

Worried you might be experiencing symptoms of syphilis? Now get tested in the comfort of your home. Book a VDRL test or syphilis test at home with Metropolis India and get a private consultation from our expert medical practitioners.

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