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TORCH screen

Definition

The TORCH screen is a blood test that checks for several different infections in a newborn. TORCH stands for toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and HIV.

Sometimes the test is spelled TORCHS, where the extra "S" stands for syphilis.

Alternative Names

How the test is performed

The health care provider will clean a small area (usually the finger) and stick it with a sharp needle or cutting instrument called a lancet. The blood may be collected in a small glass tube, on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. If there is any bleeding, cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site.

How to prepare for the test

For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see infant test or procedure preparation.

How the test will feel

While the blood sample is being obtained, your child will most likely feel a prick and a brief stinging sensation.

Why the test is performed

This test is used to screen infants for certain infections that are spread from the mother to her baby. Infections like toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, syphilis and others may lead to birth defects, growth delay, and neurological problems.

In some cases, the mother may also need to be tested to help diagnose certain infections.

Normal Values

Normal values vary from lab to lab.

What abnormal results mean

If high levels of immunoglobulin IgM against a particular substance are detected in the infant, there may be an infection. Further tests must be done to confirm a diagnosis.

What the risks are

Blood draws carry a small risk of bleeding, bruising, and infection at the involved site.

Special considerations

The TORCH screen is useful in narrowing down the possibility of a congenital infection, but if the result is positive, a definitive diagnosis will require additional testing. The mother will also need to be evaluated in order to interpret the newborn's blood tests.

References

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    Review Date: 5/12/2009

    Review By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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