Method and Reasons For Conducting a Sickle Cell Blood Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Sickle Cell Blood Test

The sickle cell test is a blood test for sickle cell anemia. This test helps to screen for sickle cell disease and can also help identify sickle cell traits in a person.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that affects the blood of the patient. In this disease, the red blood cells start to get deformed into sickle shaped red blood cells. These sickle shaped red blood cells contain hemoglobin that is abnormal. This abnormal hemoglobin is known as hemoglobin S.

Since these sickle shaped cells are abnormal, they are destroyed swiftly by the body. Instead of the normal 120 days life cycle, sickle shaped red blood cells have only a 10-20 day life span. These cells are not very fluid and can get lodged into the blood vessels, clogging the vessels and deterring the normal flow of blood. This blockage can cause severe damage to not only the blood vessels, but also the organs, bones and muscles where blood cannot reach because of the clogging. Such a blockage is extremely painful and can eventually result in death.

Method Used To Perform The test

The blood test for sickle cell trait is done though a method known as the High Performance Liquid Chromatography. This test is important in order to identify the kind of hemoglobin present in the red blood cells. However, the HPLC is only an indicative test and a further genetic test needs to be done in order to confirm the presence of sickle cell traits.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

The disease is an autosomal recessive disease. If a person is suffering from sickle cell disease, it means that sickle cell traits have been inherited from both the parents. When both genes inherited from the parents are normal, the child is normal and will have normal blood unless the child is suffering from some other disease. If the child has inherited one gene that synthesizes hemoglobin A and another that synthesizes hemoglobin S, the child may not develop sickle cell disease, but will be a carrier and may pass it on to the next generation.

In a lot of regions all over the world, it is mandatory to get a newborn child tested for sickle cell anemia. The tests are also strongly recommended for anyone who has a family member suffering from the disease. Today, the tests are sophisticated enough to test the fetus for hemoglobin abnormalities.

However, if you have had a transfusion even as long as four months before a test, the results may not be accurate. The normal RBC, which may have been obtained from the donor’s blood, can stay in the body for 120 days and therefore the tests will be falsely negative.