A syphilis test may be done on a sample of blood, sore, skin, or
spinal fluid, depending on which type of test is done.
The health professional taking a sample of your blood
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of
blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a
needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with alcohol. Put the
needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood. Remove the band
from your arm when enough blood is collected.
- Put a gauze pad or
cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
Sore or skin sample
A sample of fluid or tissue may be taken from an open sore
(chancre) or from a rash that might be caused by syphilis.
- A fluid sample is obtained by gently pressing
- Skin or
mucous membrane samples may be obtained by gently
rubbing a cotton-tipped swab over the area affected.
Fluid from a sore
that may be caused by syphilis sometimes is collected and examined with a
special type of microscope (darkfield microscope).
Spinal fluid sample
A spinal tap (lumbar puncture) is done to collect a
spinal fluid sample for syphilis testing.
For a lumbar puncture, a thin needle is inserted into the spinal
canal in the lower back area. After the needle is in place, a small amount of
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is removed from the spinal canal. To learn more, see the topic