Formal name: Hemoglobin S Evaluation
What is Sickling test?
The sickle cell test is a simple blood test. Sickling test determines whether you have a sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of RBC disorders inherited genetically. People suffering from the disease has misshaped red blood cells. Instead of having a doughnut shape (normal red blood cells), the irregular RBCs take the shape of a crescent moon. The shape of the RBCs represents the C-shape from the farming tool known as sickle.
When to get tested?
The sickling test can be performed anytime under the direction of the healthcare practitioner. It’s also a part of a newborn screen. The test also determines if someone has sickle cell disease or sickle cell anemia.
The symptoms include pain due to sickle cell crises, sickle cell anemia and increased, frequent infections like pneumonia. Other issues include coughing, chest pain, and fever.
How the test is performed
For performing the sickling test, the required specimen is the blood of the patient. The technician from the laboratory will collect blood from a vein in your arm. In the case of an infant, the blood is generally collected from the heel or the finger.
What is a sickle test used for?
This sickle cell test is useful for helping the diagnostics for sickle cell anemia (also known as sickle cell disease). Sickling test also helps to determine the possible sickle cell trait in others. Sickle cell anemia leads to the production of abnormal, misshaped hemoglobin called “hemoglobin S” (Hgb S or Hb S). This test also identifies the presence and the relative amount of such misshaped hemoglobin in the blood sample.
The normal result of this test is supposed to be false or negative.
What the abnormal test result means
If the test represents an abnormal result, it may mean that the person has either of these issues –
- Sickle cell trait
- Sickle cell anemia
If the person had a blood transfusion or iron deficiency within the past 3 months, the test may provide a false “positive” result. This false result will show that the person has normal RBCs in the bloodstream, but in reality, there are sickle cells present in the blood. This type of false result can cause improper treatment.
Anything else I should know?
The symptoms of sickle cell anemia vary from person to person, even within the same family members. People having a sickle cell trait can live healthy as normal humans. However, those who perform heavy exercises regularly like athletes, exposed to altitude extremes or dehydration will feel the symptoms of sickle cell anemia. The sickle cell carriers produce both types of hemoglobin – Hb S and Hb A. When the body is in need of heavy oxygen supply, the RBCs containing Hb S will sickle, causing the symptoms.
Sickle cell disease is due to inherited Hb S gene mutations. However, this disease is mostly seen in those having ancestry of Africa. The disease is also prevalent to those having root with Carribean, India, the Middle East, South & Central America and the Mediterranean area.