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J Lab Med Qual Assur. 2018 Dec;40(4):182-187. Korean. Review.
Kee SJ , Shin JH , Lee HS , Lee SG .
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Korea.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Green Cross Laboratories, Yongin, Korea.

The 2016–2017 surveys on the external quality assessment scheme for serologic tests for syphilis in Korea were conducted by the Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service. Proficiency testing (PT) panels consisting of three pooled serum samples were shipped to 430 and 432 laboratories participating in the program in the 1st and 2nd trials of 2016 and 465 and 503 laboratories in the 1st and 2nd trials of 2017, respectively. The rates of returning results were 94.2% and 50.2% for non-treponemal and treponemal tests, respectively, in the 1st trial of 2016; 94.7% and 49.5% in the 2nd trial of 2016; 94.2% and 49.5% in the 1st trial of 2017; and 92.8% and 48.7% in the 2nd trial of 2017, respectively. The most commonly used methods for non-treponemal tests were rapid plasma reagin (RPR) card test, followed by RPR turbidoimmunoassay and venereal disease research laboratory tests. The most commonly used methods for treponemal tests were Treponema pallidum particle agglutination, followed by immunochromatographic assay, Treponema pallidum latex agglutination, chemiluminescence immunoassay, and fluorescent treponemal antibody-absorption. The accuracy rates of the 2017 PT for non-treponemal and treponemal tests were 92.5%–99.8% and 93.3%–100.0%, respectively, which were significantly lower compared to the 98.4%–100.0% and 97.0%–100.0% in 2016. A possible explanation for the lower accuracy rates in the 2017 PT survey is the matrix effect caused by pooling multiple individual serum samples. These data suggest that pooling of serum samples obtained from a small number of donors may help avoid the matrix effect affecting standard materials used for syphilis serology PT.

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