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TORCH tests - what do they mean ?

TORCH (TOxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus and Herpes) refers to infections that may be a cause for miscarriage. In our opinion, these tests are not worthwhile for most patients. A positive TORCH test simply means the patient has positive antibody levels against that particular infection and is therefore protected against them.

Certain infections called TORCH ( which stands for TOxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus and Herpes) , may be a cause for a single miscarriage, but are NOT a cause for repeated miscarriages. Some clever doctor coined this memorable acronym for this set of infectious diseases - and labs now offer "TORCH panel" testing on a routine basis.

While a number of specialists will do these tests, and even start treatment based on the results, these tests are not worthwhile for most patients. A positive TORCH test simply means the patient has positive antibody levels against that particular infection. There are 2 types of antibodies - IgG and IgM. Thus, a positive Toxo IgG test means that the patient has anti-toxoplasmosis antibodies which protect her against a repeat toxoplasmosis infection. This means a positive test is actually a good sign and suggests that the patient is protected against that infection because she has been exposed to that infection in the past. Unfortunately, many doctors do not know how to interpret these results and scare the patient into thinking that the positive test result means she has an active infection which can cause her to miscarry again. In fact, some doctors will even attempt to "treat" the "infection" !

Others will keep on repeating the test results after a "course of antibiotic treatment" ! These are expensive tests - which waste time and energy - and while waiting for the results to become normal, they also waste a lot of valuable "fertile time" which could have been put to better use !

In addition, when patients hear the word "infection" they get worried - and wonder how they acquired this infection. Many are scared that it is sexually transmitted and that they can transmit it to their partner: and to their future baby. All this wastes time and causes needless distress.

If your doctor asks you do a TORCH test after a miscarriage, you should refuse and find a better doctor !

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