||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2013)|
Neurosyphilis is an infection of the brain or spinal cord caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It usually occurs in people who have had chronic, untreated syphilis, usually about 10 to 20 years after first infection.
Symptoms and signs 
Symptoms of neurosyphilis include:
- Abnormal gait
- Numbness in the toes, feet, or legs
- Poor concentration
- Neck stiffness
- Visual disturbances. There may be the sign of Argyll Robertson pupils, which are bilateral small pupils that constrict when the patient focuses on a near object, but do not constrict when exposed to bright light.
- Muscle weakness
Upon further diagnostic workup, the following signs may be present:
- Abnormal reflexes
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle contractions
- Venereal Disease Research Laboratory test (VDRL)
- Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS)
- Rapid plasma reagin (RPR)
- Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA)
Additional tests to look for problems with the nervous system may include:
- Cerebral angiogram
- Head CT scan
- Lumbar puncture ("spinal tap") to acquire a sample for cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- MRI scan of the brain, brainstem, or spinal cord
- Aqueous penicillin G 3-4 million units q4h for 10-14 days.
- One daily intramuscular injection and oral probenecid 4 times a day, both for 10 - 14 days.
Follow-up blood tests are generally performed at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months to make sure the infection is gone. Lumbar punctures for CSF fluid analysis are generally performed every 6 months.
- Neurosyphilis at PubMed Health. Review Date: 9/15/2010. Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, Jatin M. Vyas. Also reviewed by David Zieve