Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
Ebola: what you should know
Health Library
Back to Health Library   Print This Page Print    Email to a Friend Email

Central nervous system
Central nervous system


Definition:

Neurosyphilis is an infection of the brain or spinal cord. It occurs in persons with untreated syphilis many years after they are first infected.



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Neurosyphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that cause syphillis. It occurs about 10 - 20 years after a person is first infected with syphilis. Not everyone who has syphilis will develop this complication.

There are four different forms of neurosyphilis:

Asymptomatic neurosyphilis occurs before symptomatic syphilis.



Symptoms:

Note: There may be no symptoms



Signs and tests:

Signs include:

Blood tests can be done to detect substances produced by the bacteria that cause syphilis . The oldest test is the VDRL test.

Other tests include:

  • Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS )
  • Rapid plasma reagin (RPR )
  • Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA)

In neurosyphilis, it is important to test the spinal fluid for signs of syphilis.

Tests to look for problems with the nervous system may include:



Treatment:

Penicillin is used to treat neurosyphilis. The medicine may be given in various ways.

  • It may be injected into a vein every day for 10 - 14 days.
  • You may take probenecid by mouth 4 times a day, combined with daily muscle injections -- both for 10 - 14 days.

You must have follow-up blood tests and lumbar punctures for CSF fluid analysis at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months to make sure the infection is gone.

For information on treating syphilis, see the following articles:



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

This is considered a life-threatening complication of syphilis. How well you do depends on how severe the neurosyphilis is before treatment.



Complications:

The symptoms can get slowly worse.



Calling your health care provider:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have had syphilis in the past and now have signs of neurological problems.



Prevention:

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of the original syphilis infection can prevent neurosyphilis.



References:

Hook EW. Syphilis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 340.

Tramont EC. Treponema pallidum (syphilis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2005: chap 235.

Screening for syphilis infection: Recommendation statement . Rockville MD, US Preventive Services Task Force: July 2008.




Review Date: 9/28/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100