Sickle Cell Disease (Anemia) - Diagnosis

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How is sickle cell anemia diagnosed?

Sickle cell anemia is suggested when the abnormal sickle-shaped cells in the blood are identified under a microscope. Testing is typically performed on a smear of blood using a special low-oxygen preparation. This is referred to as a sickle prep. Other prep tests can also be used to detect the abnormal hemoglobin S, including solubility tests performed on tubes of blood solutions. The disease can be confirmed by specifically quantifying the types of hemoglobin present using a hemoglobin electrophoresis.

Prenatal diagnosis (before birth) of sickle cell anemia is possible using amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. The sample obtained is then tested for DNA analysis of the fetal cells.

The hemoglobin electrophoresis test precisely identifies the hemoglobins in the blood by separating them. The separation of the different hemoglobins is possible because of the unique electrical charges they each have on their protein surfaces, causing them each to move characteristically in an electrical field as tested in the laboratory.

Return to Sickle Cell Disease (Sickle Cell Anemia)

See what others are saying

Comment from: brownboy, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: December 30

I just went to the emergency room last night because I have bumps on my forehead. The first time I went was for the bump on top of my head which the nurse said was lipoma not even giving me a CT scan. But last night they gave me one because the bump on my forehead grew and is now getting too close to my eye. The results came back with not only bumps on my head but inside, behind my ear. I'm not sure if this is a result of the lack of blood flow caused by the sickle cells. But now I go to sleep and wake up with headaches.

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Comment from: seyi, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: April 16

I am a 27 year old guy. I was diagnosed of sickle cell disease when I was 2 years old, thanks to my dad because he was a medical doctor who took care of me. Although I had a different kind of life with visits to the hospital. I also had a late brother who had sickle cell anemia that died at the age of 15 but thankfully am still alive today. Though it is not easy because of the everyday use of drugs, I still manage myself well.

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