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Sweat electrolytes test

Definition

Alternative Names

Sweat test; Sweat chloride; Iontophoretic sweat test

How the Test is Performed

How to Prepare for the Test

No special steps are needed before this test.

How the Test will Feel

The test is not painful. Some people have a tingling feeling at the site of the electrode. This feeling may cause discomfort in small children.

Why the Test is Performed

Normal Results


  • A sweat chloride test result of less than or equal to 39 mmol/L in an infant over 6 months old probably means cystic fibrosis is very unlikely.
  • A result between 40 - 59 mmol/L does not give a clear diagnosis. Further testing is needed.
  • If the result is 60 mmol/L or greater, cystic fibrosis is present.

Note: mmol/L = millimole per liter

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

Some conditions, such as dehydration or swelling (edema) can affect the test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal test may mean that the child has cystic fibrosis.

References

Borowitz D, Robinson KA, Rosenfeld M, et al. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation evidence-based guidelines for management of infants with cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr. 2009;155(6 Suppl):S73-S93.

Egan M. Cystic fibrosis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 395.

Farrell PM, Rosenstein BJ, White TB, et al. Guidelines for diagnosis of cystic fibrosis in newborns through older adults: Cystic fibrosis consensus report. Journal of Pediatrics. Aug 2008;153(2).


Review Date: 6/9/2013
Reviewed By: Sameer Patel, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, 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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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