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Catalog ID VDRL VDRL - No longer performed on serum

Important Note

Serum VDRL tests are no longer performed. An RPR titer will be substituted and reported for all serum VDRL test orders.

CSF VDRL test are no longer performed in-house. Please see test VDSF for Mayo Clinic Laboratories for testing information.

CPOE Test Name



Venereal Disease Research Laboratories Slide Test; CSF VDRL

Reference Range



Specimens will be reported as follows:


Weak Reactive

1:X (where X is the highest titer that demonstrates reactivity. An example would be 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, etc.)

Reactive VDRL results may indicate exposure to Treponema pallidum. In untreated syphilis, reactive VDRL's are found shortly after the chancre disappears. In the secondary stage, the VDRL should be reactive 100% of the time, decreasing to 80% in the tertiary stage. In the latent stage and in a month to 2 years after successful treatment, the VDRL may become nonreactive. The titer of antibody will vary from patient to patient, and there is no direct relationship between the amount of reagin and the severity of disease. A patient’s peak titer will usually occur during the secondary stage, then decrease and plateau during later stages, prior to falling to undetectable levels. Reactive VDRL results may also be found in a variety of non syphilis conditions. These conditions include various infectious diseases such as malaria, infectious mononucleosis, infectious hepatitis, leprosy, atypical pneumonia, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other collagen vascular diseases. Additionally, false positive results may be caused by old age, and chronic illnesses. If the VDRL is reactive due to a non syphilis cause, the titer will generally be less than 1:8. Therefore, a titer of 1:8 is highly indicative of true syphilis. Specific treponema based assays such as the TP-PA should be conducted with all Reactive VDRL specimens regardless of titer. Titers less than 1:8 are common in syphilis since the titer naturally declines throughout the years even without treatment.

Non Reactive VDRL results may indicate that the patient has not been exposed to Treponema pallidum, or that the patient has been exposed and successfully treated. Non Reactive VDRL results also occur in latent syphilis in the absence of treatment.

Days Performed

This test is no longer performed in-house. It is sent to Mayo Clinic Laboratories Monday - Friday.


The quantitation of cardiolipin antibody (reagin) produced as a non-specific response to syphilis (infection with Treponema pallidum).


86593, 86592