What are the other names for this test?
Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test
What is the FTA-ABS test?
The fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test (FTA-ABS)
helps to determine antibodies in response to the bacteria Treponema pallidum. This bacteria is responsible for syphilis disease in your body. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) spread due to direct contact with the infected person having sores on their skin. The FTA-ABS test often conducts after the screening tests for syphilis.
What is the purpose of this test?
This test checks the presence of antibodies (proteins) in your body due to the Treponema pallidum bacteria. Antibodies are produced by the immune system when any outside virus or bacteria enters your body. Antibodies develop in the body whenever people get infected with syphilis. In most cases, syphilis transfers to the person through sexual contact. In general, syphilis has three stages
When to conduct this test?
- Primary syphilis
- Secondary syphilis
- Late stage of syphilis
The FTA-ABS test performs when you have positive results from the initial screening test for syphilis. The syphilis screening test may conduct by rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) tests. Your provider may recommend this test if you see symptoms of any stage of syphilis in your body.
Symptoms of syphilis
Primary syphilis stays in your body for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Their symptoms include:
- Small and painless sore (chancre) on the mouth, skin, rectum, or sexual organs. These symptoms cure themselves within 3 to 6 weeks.
- Increase in lymph nodes at the surface of the sore. Lymph nodes are present throughout your body, such as in the neck, groin, back of the head and ears, etc.
The secondary stage of syphilis appears 4 to 8 weeks after primary syphilis. Their signs and symptoms include:
- Rashes in the palms of the hands and bottom of the feet.
- Producing sores in the mouth, vagina, or penis
- Swelling in the lymph nodes
- Hair loss
- Blurry vision
- Pain in the muscle and joint
- Moist and unsmooth patches in the sexual organs or skin folds
The symptoms for the late stage of syphilis may vary on the particularly affected organs of the body. The tertiary or late stage of syphilis is the most severe stage to diagnose symptoms. The possible signs are:
- Heart damage or valve disease
- Disorder of the central nervous system
- Tumors (a solid mass of tissue develops due to the grouping of abnormal cells) of skin, liver, or bones).
The FTA-ABS test
may also conduct:
- If you have a syphilis infection and your provider wants to monitor your condition.
- If you are pregnant
- Before marriage (some states will ask to take this test to receive a marriage certificate).
If you have a positive syphilis test, you should place an online order
for this test to see the antibodies in your body.
What is the procedure for this test?
The FTA-ABS test contains the following steps to conduct:
How do I get ready for this test?
- Visit the laboratory you have selected after placing an online order.
- Your provider will ask you to remove part of your cloth from your arm.
- A small needle will inject into a vein in your arm.
- A test tube or a specimen will collect your blood sample.
- A bandage will apply to cover the vein where the needle will inject.
- You can return home for daily activities.
- This test does not take time greater than five minutes.
You do not need any special preparation for the FTA-ABS test. You can inform your doctor if you use medicines such as warfarin (blood thinners), supplements, or vitamins. Your doctor will ask you to stop taking these medications before the test.
What are the risks of this test?
The FTA-ABS test does not have high risks. You can experience slight pain when the needle injects into his veins. The other low risks may include:
What do the test results indicate?
- Light bleeding
- Lightheaded feeling
The test results depend on age, gender, medical history, and other factors. The recommended range for the test can differ slightly among laboratories. Laboratories may use different methods for measurements.
The results of the FTA-ABS test can indicate the presence of antibodies to T.pallidum bacteria in your body if you have a syphilis infection. Non-reactive or negative test results
show no antibodies in your body. It means that you are currently free from the syphilis infection or have not experienced the STD infection in the past.
Abnormal or positive test results show antibodies in your body due to active syphilis infection. You will have positive test results
throughout your life if you already had treated for syphilis.
You can schedule an online appointment
to know the presence of T.pallidum bacteria in your body.
What factors may affect the test results?
The two other skin conditions that may change your test results include yaws and pinta. False FTA-ABS test results may also occur sometimes in women due to lupus (a disease of the immune system).
What additional test may I need to conduct along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also ask you for additional tests besides the fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test. These tests include:
- Nontreponemal antibody test includes rapid plasma reagin test and the venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) tests. These tests may provide inaccurate or false results.
- Treponemal antibody test - The FTA-ABS test belongs to this type of syphilis test. This test only finds the number of antibodies produced against Treponema pallidum bacteria. This test does not provide false-positive results.
- Microhemagglutination assay (MHA-TP) - It often conducts when another syphilis test shows positive results.
- Dark Field microscopy - This test uses a microscope to observe syphilis germs in your sample of fluid or tissue. Your provider uses this test in the early stages.
- Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) - This test often combines with an RPR or VLDL test.
- Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA) - This test determines antibodies and combines with a screening test.