Sweat Test Screenings for Cystic Fibrosis
If your baby’s newborn screen comes back positive for cystic fibrosis (CF), your pediatrician may refer you to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center for a confirmatory test called a sweat test.
A doctor may also order a sweat test for an older child or adult who has never been tested for cystic fibrosis if they experience symptoms of the disease and/or someone in their family has the disease.
How to Make an Appointment for Sweat Testing
To make an appointment, please call 216-844-8393 and inform the receptionist that you would like to schedule a sweat test for cystic fibrosis screening.
About Sweat Testing
- A sweat test measures the amount of salt present in the sweat.
- Sweat testing is the most reliable way to diagnose cystic fibrosis.
- During the test, small areas of your or your child’s arms or legs will be stimulated to sweat. The sweat will be collected in a small capillary tube and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
- The test takes approximately one hour.
How Much Time Do I Need for the Appointment?
The sweat test itself takes approximately one hour. Your visit at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, including meeting with a genetic counselor if indicated, could take up to two hours in total.
Patient Instructions for the Sweat Testing
How Do I Prepare for the Sweat Test?
Make sure you/your child drinks or nurses in the hours before the test so he or she is well hydrated.
- Avoid Lotions
The patient should not use creams, oils, or lotions for 24 hours prior to the appointment.
- Add Layers
Bring warm clothes, a hat and/or blanket for the patient to wear during the test. Dress your child in loose-fitting clothing to allow easy access to arms and legs.
You or your child may take your medications on the day of the test.
Note: If you/your child is sick the day of the test with a fever, cold or flu, please call the laboratory to reschedule at 216-844-8393.
Where Is the Sweat Testing Center?
Your provider may send you to one of two sites within UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s main campus:
- Center for Human Genetics, 1500 Lakeside: Park in the garage across from Seidman Cancer Center. Walk through the main entrance of the hospital. Follow signs to Lakeside. Locate 1500 Lakeside on first floor. Let the front desk know you/you are there for your child’s sweat test.
- Humphrey Laboratory: Park in the garage across from Seidman Cancer Center. Walk through the main entrance of the hospital. Follow signs to Humphrey. Locate Humphrey Laboratory (also Parking Services) on first floor. Let the front desk know you are there for you/your child’s sweat test.
What to Expect During the Sweat Test:
- The sweat test takes about one hour.
- The test does not involve needles.
- You/Your child might feel a slight tingling or itchy feeling, but the test is not painful.
- A disk containing a colorless, odorless chemical that causes sweating is placed on the patient’s arm or leg and held in place by a snug Velcro band.
- This disk is then attached to a small machine that will send a weak electrical pulse to the skin to make it sweat.
- The first disk will be removed and a second disk will be placed over the stimulated area to collect the sweat.
- You/Your child may lie down, sit on the table or in your lap, or play quietly during the 30-minute collection time. If your child is a baby, you may hold him or her in your arms and give a bottle or nurse.
What Happens After the Sweat Test?
- The area under the collection disk will be red. This redness usually goes away after a few hours.
- Occasionally, a rash will appear. If a rash appears, you may use A&D Ointment on it to relieve any itchiness. The rash might take longer to fade than the redness.
- In very rare cases, the skin under the collection disk might look like a bad sunburn. In the unlikely event of a burn, your doctor would give you special instructions for treating the skin.
- You/Your child may resume normal activities, eating and drinking as soon as the test is over.
Understanding Your Results
- You will find out the results of the test within 24-48 hours.
- Less than 30 mmol/L = CF is unlikely
- Between 30-59 mmol/L = CF is possible and additional testing is needed
- Greater than or equal to 60 mmol/L = CF is likely to be diagnosed
- If you/your child does not produce enough sweat, the test may need to be repeated.
If you need to reschedule or cancel the test, please call the laboratory at 216-844-8393.
If you or your child has cystic fibrosis, you can meet with a member of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s CF team for an introduction to the LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center and our services. We will arrange for you or your child to be seen within one week of your sweat test. At our center, we have a dedicated team of staff members to care for you or your child using the latest and best treatments for cystic fibrosis.
The LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
The LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is world-renowned for its care of children and adults with cystic fibrosis and is fully accredited with the highest possible rating by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The model of care – a multidisciplinary team approach that includes pediatric pulmonary specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, social workers, child life therapists and other specialists – was first developed by Dr. LeRoy Matthews in the 1950s and adopted nationwide by cystic fibrosis care centers.
Physician-scientists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are among the world’s most innovative researchers, developing new treatments and leading the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The Willard A. Bernbaum Cystic Fibrosis Research Center strives to understand the basic defect of the disease and its consequences, the reasons for the lung infection and inflammation in cystic fibrosis and how to treat it, as well as methods by which the corrective gene can be introduced into the lung. The fruits of these discoveries come to the patients receiving care at the LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center and the KC and Ginny Bryan Pulmonary Diagnostic Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital through access to novel therapies and clinical trials not available at other hospitals.
At UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, helping patients live a long life is our goal. Due in part to the leadership and research efforts of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital specialists, the life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis nationwide is now more than 59 years, with the majority of patients at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital among the oldest cystic fibrosis patients in the country.
Make an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with one of our cystic fibrosis specialists, please call 216-844-1750.Find a Doctor Today
For More Information
Read about the advances in Cystic Fibrosis treatment.