What is the full form of VDRL
VDRL: Veneral Disease Research Laboratory
The full form of VDRL is Veneral Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL). It is a test designed to assess whether you have syphilis, a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Bacterium Treponema pallidum is the cause of Syphilis. It penetrates into the lining of the mouth or genital area and thus infects.
The VDRL test doesn't look for the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Instead, it checks for the antibodies your body makes in response to antigens produced by cells damaged by the bacteria. The protein produced by our immune system to fight off invaders like bacteria or toxins are called antibodies. Doctors can tell if you have syphilis or not by looking out for those antibodies.
You don't need to have the symptoms of syphilis for this test to be accurate. Because it checks for the production of antibodies as a result of syphilis infection, the VDRL test can be used regardless of whether you currently have any symptoms.
Why do doctors perform VDRL tests?
If an individual has a chance of having syphilis, doctors will most likely advise a VDRL test. Early symptoms of syphilis that may prompt the doctor to recommend this test include:
Doctors sometimes may even suggest for VDRL test without any symptoms or reasons to think you have syphilis. For example, doctors prescribe VDRL tests for pregnant women as routine care. It comes under the standard procedure, and it doesn't mean your doctor thinks you have syphilis.
Doctors sometimes may also suggest for VDRL tests if an individual is 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 an individual is already 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.
The VDRL test
For an individual giving VDRL test, he has to give blood to healthcare professionals. Blood is generally drawn from a vein at the crease of the elbow or the back of the hand. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory and tested for the antibodies produces as a result of syphilis.
There's no need of fasting or stop taking medications for the VDRL test. If the case is complex and there is an exception, then the patient is informed beforehand. If the doctor suspects that syphilis has spread to your brain, your doctor may choose to test your spinal fluid in addition to your blood.
How to understand the results of the VDRL test?
If the test is negative for the VDRL test, that means the individual doesn't have syphilis antibodies, and it suggests that the individual doesn't have syphilis.
And if the test is positive for syphilis antibodies, the person may have syphilis but it is not necessary. There are other specific tests, which doctors advise if the VDRL test is positive. The treponemal test is one of them that is used to confirm the positive test. In this, it is checked whether your immune system has produced specific antibodies in direct response to syphilis causing Treponema pallidum.
Potential for false positives and negatives
The VDRL test isn't always 100 percent accurate. In some cases, the results are false, if the person has had syphilis for less than three months because to make antibodies our body takes time of around three months. We cannot rely on the VDRL test in late-stage syphilis.
False positive results are caused by various diseases, and a few of them are:
There are some cases where antibodies are not produced even if the person is infected with syphilis. This leads to false results in VDRL tests. The antibodies which are produced when a person gets infected with syphilis stay in the body even if the person is recovered. Due to this, a person may always get a positive result on testing for VDRL.
Risks of taking the VDRL test
The risk of a blood draw is fairly minor. Minor issues like mild pain while drawing blood or minor bruises or bleeding afterward are common in the test. Developing a serious problem from a blood draw, such as inflammation of the vein or an infection, is rare.
Syphilis is treatable, but it's important to consult your doctor as soon as you think you might have been exposed. It shouldn't be left untreated, untreated syphilis may lead to the spread of the virus in the whole body and it may cause complications in the organs. VDRL test is not perfect, but it's a trusted test that can be the first step in helping to determine if you've been infected. Most important thing is to practice safe sex, and if an individual has doubt that he has syphilis, he should contact the doctor as soon as possible.