Prevalence of syphilis reactivity in patients with stroke, cognitive impairment and extrapyramidal syndromes: a retrospective study.

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Giulia Ciccarese, MD, PhD Francesco Drago, MD Bianco Drago, MD Aurora Parodi, MD


In the last two decades, there has been a resurgence of syphilis worldwide. However, epidemiological data on neurosyphilis are inconsistent for the lack of reporting data and diagnostic gold standard tests. The aim of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of syphilis reactivity in a cohort of patients with neurological diseases of our hospital. We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of the patients hospitalized at the Stroke Unit of the Neurology Clinic and those suffering from cognitive impairment hospitalized at the acute ward of the Geriatrics Clinic between January 2017 and December 2019. Also the patients who attended the Movement disorder outpatient clinic during the same study period were examined. To detect syphilis reactivity a qualitative specific treponemal test on patient’s serum was performed: the Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay (TPHA). A total of 652 patients were admitted and 315 of them (52%) were submitted to a routine screening for syphilis: 307 (97%) were negative while 8 (3%) had a positive syphilis serology. The TPHA-positive patients (4 males, 4 females) were 2 patients with stroke, 5 with cognitive impairment and 1 with Parkinsonism with a mean age of 83 years, suffering from multiple comorbidities. Although the patients we have retrospectively studied have not undergone lumbar puncture to confirm the diagnosis of neurosyphilis, the not negligible syphilis reactivity rate found in our series suggests that serological screening for syphilis should be reviewed as a routine screening test in neurology and geriatrics departments, especially if the clinical presentation of the neurological diseases is atypical.

Keywords: neurosyphilis, syphilis reactivity, stroke, cognitive impairment, Parkinsonism

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CICCARESE, Giulia et al. Prevalence of syphilis reactivity in patients with stroke, cognitive impairment and extrapyramidal syndromes: a retrospective study.. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 2, feb. 2021. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 18 apr. 2024. doi:
Research Articles


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