The article below covers all the significant topics related to sickle cell blood test such as sickle cell test cost, who should get tested for sickle cell blood test, preparation, risks, and how to get tested for sickle cell disease.
For our readers, who are very much interested in knowing the sickle cell test cost beforehand, we would like to begin with that section.
How much does the sickle cell test cost?
Sickle cell test cost ranges between $49 and $54 in different labs and facilities across the U.S. To view and compare the prices in different labs offered by different providers, click the button below.
Sickle cell test cost with insurance
Most of the health insurance policies in the U.S. cover the cost of the sickle cell test. However, the coverage offered by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid varies widely. So we recommend you to check the coverage of your health insurance plan before getting tested for sickle cell disease.
Our sickle cell testing providers do not accept any kind of health insurance plan. But, on request, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details like the name and code of the test, and CPT code that is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
What is a sickle cell test?
A sickle cell test is a simple blood test that checks for hemoglobin S – the defective form of hemoglobin that causes sickle cell anemia. It is done to determine if you have sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait. This test is a part of routine newborn screening. However, it can also be performed on older children and adults if necessary.
What is sickle cell disease?
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes your body to produce abnormally shaped red blood cells. Red blood cells are very important as they carry oxygen throughout the body. This disease is named for the C-shaped farming tool called sickle as the sickle cells are C-shaped and resemble a crescent moon. Sickle cells become hard and sticky and they increase the risk for blood clots. They can also die early resulting in the shortage of red blood cells.
There are two conditions that can cause sickle cell anemia namely sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.
Sickle cell disease vs. sickle cell trait
In sickle cell disease, an individual has two abnormal hemoglobin S genes that cause the disease. An individual with sickle cell trait has only one of the abnormal genes that might be passed on through either of his/her mother or father. People with sickle cell trait show mild or do not show any symptoms of sickle cell disease and they can never have sickle cell disease but they can pass it to their children.
Sickle cell anemia statistics in the U.S.
According to the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation, about 90,000 individuals are living with sickle cell anemia in the U.S. with 10% of the population at risk for the disease. So we highly recommend everyone who experiences the symptoms of sickle cell disease or are at a risk for the disease to get tested for sickle cell anemia test.
Types of sickle cell disease
There are different types of sickle cell disease based on the specific type of abnormal hemoglobin you have. They are
- Hemoglobin SS (most severe type)
- Hemoglobin SC (mild type)
- Hemoglobin Sβ thalassemia
- Hemoglobin SD
- Hemoglobin SE
- Hemoglobin SO
Symptoms of sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease causes various symptoms that include
- Fatigue caused by anemia
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing
- Yellowing of the skin
- Periodic episodes of pain that are caused by blocked blood flow
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Problems in the vision
- Delayed growth
- Frequent infections
Who should get tested for sickle cell test?
People with the following conditions should get tested for a sickle cell test.
- Newborn babies as a part of routine newborn screening
- Immigrants who haven’t been tested in their home countries
- People who experience the symptoms of sickle cell disease
- Pregnant women to know if they are a sickle cell carrier
How is the sickle cell test done?
The sickle cell test is done using the blood sample.
During this test, a lab technician or a phlebotomist will cleanse the area to be injected with an antiseptic and wrap an elastic band around the upper arm to make the vein visible and swell with blood. He/she then injects a needle to draw a sample of blood and collects the blood sample in a test tube. After the blood is drawn, he/she covers the injected area with a band-aid or a cotton ball to stop bleeding. The collected blood sample is then sent to the lab for further analysis.
In the case of infants and children, the blood sample will be taken from the heel or finger with the help of a sharp tool called lancet.
It takes less than 5 to 10 minutes to perform this test.
Is there any preparation required before the test?
There is no special preparation required for the sickle cell test. But physicians recommend not to take a sickle cell test up to 90 days after receiving a blood transfusion as it may influence the test results and lead to an inaccurate diagnosis.
Are there any risks in the test?
There are no possible risks or complications in the sickle cell blood test. After the blood sample is drawn, you might feel dizziness, slight pain, bruise or redness in the injected spot for a very little period.
What does the test result mean?
The sickle cell blood test looks for the abnormal hemoglobin S in the blood. If the test result is negative, then it means your hemoglobin is normal. If the test result is positive, then it indicates that you have sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait.
If the test is positive, your physician will order another test called hemoglobin electrophoresis to distinguish between sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.
How to treat sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia can be treated with
Bone marrow transplant – It is also known as stem cell transplant and it is the only potential cure for sickle cell anemia. This treatment is generally recommended for people younger than 16 years of age.
Medications – Medications such as antibiotic penicillin, hydroxyurea (droxia, hydrea) and other pain-relieving medications helps in reducing the pain and preventing the complications.
Blood transfusions – This can increase the number of normal red blood cells in circulation and helps to relieve anemia. It can also be used to treat other complications of sickle cell anemia.
Other experimental treatments include gene therapy and drugs to boost fetal hemoglobin.
What are the complications of sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia can cause severe complications such as
- Acute chest syndrome (chest pain, fever, and difficulty in breathing)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
- Organ damage due to deprivation of oxygen-rich blood
- Leg ulcers (open sores on the legs)
- Priapism (painful and long-lasting erections due to the blockage of blood vessels in the penis)
How to prevent sickle cell anemia?
There are no possible ways to prevent sickle cell anemia. However, if you are a carrier of sickle cell trait seeing a genetic counselor before trying to conceive can help you in understanding the risk of having a child with sickle cell anemia. The counselor will also help you with available treatments and other reproductive options.
The sickle cell test can be done in any of the following locations across the U.S. by visiting the nearest lab. To know the sickle cell test cost, refer to the first section of the article.
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