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Sickle cell test

Sickledex; Hgb S test

The sickle cell test looks for the abnormal hemoglobin in the blood that causes the disorder sickle cell disease.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to tell if a person has abnormal hemoglobin that causes sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

In sickle cell disease, a person has two abnormal hemoglobin S genes. A person with sickle cell trait has only one of these abnormal genes and no symptoms, or only mild ones.

This test does not tell the difference between these two conditions. Another test, called hemoglobin electrophoresis, will be done to tell which condition someone has.

Normal Results

A normal test result is called a negative result.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal test result indicates the person might have one of these:

  • Sickle cell disease
  • Sickle cell trait

Iron deficiency or blood transfusions within the past 3 months can cause a false negative result. This means the person might have the abnormal hemoglobin for sickle cell, but these other factors are making their test results appear negative (normal).

Risks

There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another, and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins
  • Hematoma (blood buildup under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Sickle cell test - blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:1014.

Saunthararajah Y, Vichinsky EP. Sickle cell disease: clinical features and management. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 42.

    • Red blood cells, sickle cell

      Red blood cells, sickle cell - illustration

      Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disease in which the red blood cells produce abnormal pigment (hemoglobin). The abnormal hemoglobin causes deformity of the red blood cells into crescent or sickle-shapes, as seen in this photomicrograph.

      Red blood cells, sickle cell

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

      Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells - illustration

      Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder in which abnormal hemoglobin (the red pigment inside red blood cells) is produced. The abnormal hemoglobin causes red blood cells to assume a sickle shape, like the ones seen in this photomicrograph.

      Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, sickle cells

      Red blood cells, sickle cells - illustration

      These crescent or sickle-shaped red blood cells (RBCs) are present with Sickle cell anemia, and stand out clearly against the normal round RBCs. These abnormally shaped cells may become entangled and block blood flow in the small blood vessels (capillaries).

      Red blood cells, sickle cells

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

      Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer - illustration

      This photomicrograph of red blood cells (RBCs) shows both sickle-shaped and Pappenheimer bodies.

      Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

      illustration

      • Red blood cells, sickle cell

        Red blood cells, sickle cell - illustration

        Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disease in which the red blood cells produce abnormal pigment (hemoglobin). The abnormal hemoglobin causes deformity of the red blood cells into crescent or sickle-shapes, as seen in this photomicrograph.

        Red blood cells, sickle cell

        illustration

      • Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

        Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells - illustration

        Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder in which abnormal hemoglobin (the red pigment inside red blood cells) is produced. The abnormal hemoglobin causes red blood cells to assume a sickle shape, like the ones seen in this photomicrograph.

        Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

        illustration

      • Red blood cells, sickle cells

        Red blood cells, sickle cells - illustration

        These crescent or sickle-shaped red blood cells (RBCs) are present with Sickle cell anemia, and stand out clearly against the normal round RBCs. These abnormally shaped cells may become entangled and block blood flow in the small blood vessels (capillaries).

        Red blood cells, sickle cells

        illustration

      • Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

        Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer - illustration

        This photomicrograph of red blood cells (RBCs) shows both sickle-shaped and Pappenheimer bodies.

        Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

        illustration

      A Closer Look

       

      Tests for Sickle cell test

       

      Review Date: 1/19/2018

      Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longsteet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      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. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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