Sickle Cell Anemia

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Laboratory Tests

The goals with sickle cell tests are to identify sickle cell anemia as soon as possible, to identify people with sickle cell trait, and to identify, evaluate, and treat complications as they arise. Newborn screening for sickle cell is now performed routinely throughout the U.S. This testing can identify the specific types of hemoglobin present in a newborn.

Sickle cell tests and other tests that may be performed include:

  • Hb solubility test and sodium metabisulfite test to screen for sickle cell anemia
  • Hemoglobinopathy (Hb) evaluation through Hb electrophoresis, Hb isoelectric focusing, or HPLC to detect abnormal types and measure relative amounts of hemoglobins present in the red blood cells (RBCs); the test may also be performed after a blood transfusion to ensure that a sufficient amount of normal hemoglobin is present to reduce the risk of damage from RBC sickling.
  • DNA analysis to investigate alterations and mutations in the genes that encode hemoglobin components; DNA testing can also be used to determine if a person is a carrier for sickle cell anemia.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) to determine the number and average size of RBCs in the body as well as how much hemoglobin they contain, both of which are often low in those with sickle cell disease
  • Blood smear (also called peripheral smear and manual differential) to screen for abnormal-looking and sickle-shaped RBCs
  • Iron studies to evaluate the body's level of iron, which can be increased in sickle cell patients who have received multiple blood transfusions
  • Serum creatinine test to detect increased levels of creatinine in the blood that indicate abnormal kidney function in order to monitor for the development of kidney disease

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