Bllod test for syphilis? Horrified.

I saw my neuro a couple of weeks ago…I have had symptoms of MS for some time but have not had a diagnosis. My brain MRI was normal as was spinal MRI. I have not had a lumbar puncture as I do not like the idea of it. I intially saw an optician in January 2012 who immediately referred me to a consultant opthalmologist, she also said I must surrender my driving license. I was told by the opthalmic consultant that I had MS. That was that. After many eye scans and tests he told me that the same day. I then had a neurologist appointment, followed by another with an eye man for visual evoked potentials. He said you have optic neuritis now and you have had it in the past - ring your neuro straight away and tell him what I have said. I did ring the neuro and he rang me back when he got the evoked potentials result…saying they were the higher side of normal but essentially they were OK. I then saw a consultant opthalmologist - about one month ago - who said I had retrobular neuritis and gave me a prescription for Methylprednisolone. I had to take these for five days and they made me feel awful but the pain I had experienced in my right eye stopped. I saw my neuro again last weel and he said he did not think I had optic neuritis - despite three eye men telling me I had - and my neuro has ordered lots of blood tests in addition to referring me to neuro-opthalmology for a second opinion. My eyesight is deteriorating - 6/36 left eye and 6/12 on the right. I had today recieved a letter listing the bloods he wnats me to have done. I was horrrified to see that he has ordered a syphilis screen. I am a mature married woman with one grown up son and the thought of this test being required is just awful. Has anyone else had this done? He has also ordered DNA (double stranded). VLC fatty acids, Immunoglobulins and quite a few more. I am to have them done this week. I actually feel dirty - I cannot think of anything worse than anyone thinking I would need to be tested for syphilis…its just dreadful. has anyone else had this experience? I cannot get it our of my mind.

I haven’t had this experience myself, but try to look at it from the doctor’s perspective. If it’s a differential diagnosis then they’ve got to rule it out. It’s not a judgement against you as a person, but that in x% of cases syphilis is the ‘correct answer’ so to speak. Not everyone is going to tell the truth to Doctors (seems a bit silly to me, but it happens!), and not everyone is as lucky to have the loving and loyal husband I’m sure you must have, and so they need to rule out every possibility. I’m sure it’s as much covering their back as anything - can you imagine what would happen if someone else had syphilis and the doctor’s didn’t catch it because they didn’t run a simple test?

I know this might not help, but really try to see that it’s not personal. I’m not involved in medicine myself, but I would be very surprised if I’m wrong on this. Just think - every possibility ruled out is a step further towards a diagnosis - with so many things that can be reponsible for our symptoms they have to rule out things wherever possible!

Fear not; syphilis as I can see is an autoimmune disease. I’ve not read it all but it has some association with vertigo.

MS is thought to be autoimmune and can cause vertigo so they are just covering all possobilities.



Do not worry Anon, I suspect that these are routine tests that must be carried out in order to be thorough. It is certainly not a slur on you. Teresa xx

I know it seems horrid but they’re doing their job being thorough. You know how your relationship is with your husband but they don’t. Try not to take it personally - think of it as a process of elimination. Once those results are through you can forget all about it. and move on to what really is causing your problems.



Hi Anon

I have my 2nd appointment with the neuro on Sept 25th and I keep having nightmares that she says I have syphilis!!

I havent been so lucky as you with your husband; both my long term relationships ended when they cheated on me, so I think in the back of my mind there is the fact that syphilis may be a possibility for me :frowning:

In actual fact, I think syphilis would be better than MS as it is mainly curable.

Well we cant change what it is causing these symptoms, so I am going to go in there with an open mind and accept whatever it is.


They run the test as standard these days to rule it out. Theres a whole bundle of blood tests that they do to rule things out

Hi Anon, it is a standard screen to be tested for syphillis…and i agree with pm64 that I would choose syphillis over MS.

I’m going anon because I was also standardly tested for it…so don’t worry that you have been singled out.

Kind Regards, Anon (2)

When they’re not sure what’s the matter, they screen for everything potentially relevant to your symptoms that they can think of. It’s nothing personal. Illnesses for doctors are just illnesses - they don’t come freighted with fear and shame. So please do not take it personally. They would be running the same tests if you were a nun. Honestly, they are not testing you because they’ve run the ‘nice girl’ slide rule over you and you’ve failed! They just have to grind through the process of eliminating all the possible causes until they get to the bottom of what ails you.

You have a lot of worries on your plate at the moment, and this is an upsetting and difficult time for you. If you are feeling at bit at sea, it’s no wonder. But please do not waste a single moment feeling upset or insulted by this small matter of a routine test. There really is no need.

I hope you get some answers very soon.



Please don’t feel ashamed or judged by this blood test. It is an absolutely normal blood test that is done as a part of the basic “screening” tests to rule out any possible other causes for your symptoms. There is no test specifically for MS. It is often a diagnosis based on excluding everything else and then if it looks like MS, behaves like MS and we have proved it isn’t anything else then it MUST be MS.

Syphilis tests are actually done as a part of a standard blood screen way more often than most people realise. Drs possibly don’t mention they are including it because people do feel stigmatised by the test but it is a very routine test. For example did you know that you have already been tested for syphilis and you never even knew about it? But you mentioned you have a son so I can guarantee you that early in your pregnancy one of the blood tests you had done would have screened for syphilis :slight_smile:

Please put it out of your mind. Your Dr doesn’t think you DO have syphilis; he certainly isn’t making any judgements about your character or your morals by doing this test. It is absolutely standard.



Fear not Anon! The syphylis test is probably just to exclude Lupus. People with Lupus can show a false positive result for syphylis so your doc must be pretty positive that you don’t have it.

Mags xx