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West J Med. 1981 Sep;135(3):191-200.

Modern neurosyphilis: a partially treated chronic meningitis.

Abstract

Approximately 5,000 new cases of neurosyphilis may occur in the United States each year. General paresis and tabes dorsalis, however, have become relatively rare since the introduction of penicillin. Seizures, neuro-ophthalmologic symptoms, stroke and acute meningoencephalitis are currently the most common manifestations of neurosyphilis. In more than a third of patients with neurosyphilis, nontreponemal tests for syphilis (such as VDRL) are negative and should not be used to exclude the diagnosis. Specific treponemal tests are more sensitive and more specific. Examination of the cerebrospinal fluid may show no abnormalities in neurosyphilis and is not an infallible guide to the activity of the infection. Penicillin is the only proven antibiotic treatment of neurosyphilis. However, low-dose regimens do not produce spirocheticidal concentrations in the brain, and high-dose penicillin therapy is recommended to insure eradication of the spirochetes. Doxycycline, a tetracycline derivation that achieves relatively high concentration in the brain, may also be effective.

PMID:
7340118
PMCID:
PMC1273113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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