Screening Tests for Sweat

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Screening Tests for Sweat

A qualitative sweat test measuring sweat conductivity represents a CF screening test. Individuals having positive or borderline results should be followed with quantitative sweat chloride testing. Screening tests may or may not quantitate the amount of sweat collected and may report a positive, negative, or borderline result or give an actual concentration of sweat analytes. It is not appropriate to follow up a positive newborn screening test for CF with a sweat screening test. Therefore, patients must undergo quantitative chloride testing.
The CF Foundation has approved the Wescor Macroduct Sweat Chek™ for screening at clinical sites, such as community hospitals, with the criteria that an individual having a sweat conductivity of 50 mmol/L or greater should be referred to an accredited CF care center for a quantitative sweat chloride test.11 The CF Foundation accredits centers across the US where patients can receive specialized care for their disease.
Some older screening methods using unheated collection cups or direct application chloride electrodes have documented problems with evaporation, making them inappropriate for clinical use. Sweat conductivity is approximately 15 mmol/L higher than sweat chloride concentration due to the presence of unmeasured anions, such as lactate and bicarbonate, in the conductivity measurement. Laboratories must be careful to report conductivity using the appropriate conductivity reference intervals.
11. LeGrys VA, Yankaskas JR, Quittell LM, Marshall BC, Mogayzel PJ Jr. Diagnostic sweat testing: the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation guidelines. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2007 Jul;151(1):85-9.