Sickle Cell Test
Why It Is Done
A sickle cell test is done to help diagnose sickle cell disease.
A sickle cell test is also done to screen for sickle
cell trait or sickle cell disease. This test may be done for newborns and for people at high risk. Detecting sickle cell
trait is important for couples who want to have children and who may be
carriers of sickle cell trait.
How To Prepare
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have had a
blood transfusion in the past 4 months because it can
interfere with the test results.
How It Is Done
Blood sample from a vein
The health professional drawing blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Put pressure to the site and then a
Blood sample from a heel stick
During newborn testing, the blood sample is usually
taken from your baby's heel (called a heel stick).
- Your baby's heel is cleaned with alcohol and then the heel is
poked with a small needle.
- Several drops of blood are collected
inside circles on a special piece of paper.
- When enough blood has
been collected, a small bandage is put on the site.
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
Your baby may feel a sting or a pinch with a heel