Assays that detect treponema-specific antibodies, which are either automated or can be done as point-of-care tests, have been developed, some of which are FDA approved. These assays have the advantage of being easily performed and demonstrate high sensitivity, both key features of an infectious disease screening test. As a result, many high-volume clinical laboratories have begun to offer a reverse syphilis testing algorithm where a treponema-specific test is used for screening, followed by a nontreponemal test (i.e., rapid plasma reagin [RPR]) to assess disease activity and treatment status. Concerns about physicians being able to understand and apply this new testing algorithm have been expressed (8). In this point-counterpoint, Michael Loeffelholz of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston explains why his laboratory has adopted this reverse algorithmic approach. Matthew Binnicker of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, explains why the reverse algorithm may not be suitable for all clinical laboratories and every clinical situation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)