(888) 39-MERCY
Wisconsin & Illinois

Health Library

Return to Index
by Scholten A

Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease

Blood tests are used to diagnose sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait. They can be done on children or adults. Many states require newborn babies to be tested for sickle cell disease. This happens before they leave the hospital. Pregnant women can also have their unborn babies tested.
Tests include:
Hemoglobin electrophoresis —A small blood sample is taken. It is sent to a lab. The normal and abnormal hemoglobin are measured.
Sickledex test —A small blood sample is taken and sent to a lab. It looks at how many red blood cells have the sickle shape. A positive test means a person has either sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease.
Amniocentesis —Tests the fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus. A small sample of the fluid is removed with a needle. It is then sent to a lab.


Facts about sickle cell disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/facts.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
How is sickle cell disease diagnosed? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/diagnosis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Pinto VM, Balocco M, et al. Sickle cell disease: a review for the internist. Intern Emerg Med. 2019;14(7):1051-1064.
Sickle cell disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sickle-cell-anemia.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-adults-and-adolescents . Accessed March 5, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-infants-and-children Accessed March 5, 2021.
Sickle cell trait. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/traits.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 02/2021
  • Update Date: 03/10/2021