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Syphilis - tertiary

  • Alternative Names

    Late syphilis; Tertiary syphilis


    Symptoms of tertiary syphilis depend on which organ systems have been affected. They vary widely and are difficult to diagnose. In individuals with tertiary syphilis, the primary and secondary stages of syphilis usually have been long forgotten. Medical findings of aortic aneurysms and neurological problems require astute diagnostic ability to link them to syphilis. Some of the symptomatic problems are listed below.

    • Cardiovascular syphilis which affects the aorta and causes aneurysms or valve disease
    • Central nervous system disorders (neurosyphilis)
    • Infiltrative tumors of skin, bones, or liver (gumma)

    Signs and tests

    VDRL or RPR blood tests are used as screening tests. If they are positive, one of the following is needed to confirm the diagnosis of syphilis:

    • FTA-ABS (fluorescent treponemal antibody test)
    • MHA-TP

    Spinal fluid examination in neurosyphilis shows signs of meningitis.