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May 1977

Serologic Tests in Late Syphilis

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md

Arch Otolaryngol. 1977;103(5):310. doi:10.1001/archotol.1977.00780220104019

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To the Editor.—The report by Dr Gary D. Becker on late syphilis, which appeared in the December issue of the Archives (102:729-731,1976), was both interesting and of clinical importance. It is all too often that we assume on the basis of a positive FTA-ABS test that a patient has or has previously had syphilis, regardless of the results of nontreponemal serologic tests for syphilis. We often overlook other diseases or conditions associated with a false-positive FTA-ABS result, and this proves quite unfair to the patient.

Dr Becker points out that Treponema pallidum is not present in late syphilis, and therefore a definitive diagnosis is not possible. A number of his references include the results of the research of J. Lawton Smith and his associates who have reported the presence of spirochetes in the aqueous humor and CSF of patients with late seronegative syphilis. We are curious as to why

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