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How to perform and interpret the sweat test
  1. Anthony Brown1,
  2. Laura Jenkins2,
  3. Alastair Reid2,
  4. Anne Leavy2,
  5. Glen McDowell3,
  6. Claire McIlroy4,
  7. Andrew Thompson1,
  8. Ben McNaughten5
  1. 1 The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Respiratory Paediatrics, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  3. 3 Biomedical Science, Royal Group of Hospitals and Dental Hospital Health and Social Services Trust, Belfast, UK
  4. 4 Neonatal Screening, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  5. 5 Antrim Area Hospital, Antrim, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Thompson, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast BT126BE, UK; andrew.thompson{at}


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common life-threatening autosomal-recessive disease affecting Caucasians in the western world. The sweat test is the main diagnostic test for CF. It is indicated as part of the clinical assessment for infants that have picked up on the national neonatal screening programme. It may also be requested where clinical suspicion of a diagnosis of CF exists despite normal screening results. This article outlines the physiological basis behind sweat testing and the technical aspects of performing the test. Indications for performing the test are also considered. The article aims to provide clinicians with a guide to interpretation of results.

  • cystic fibrosis
  • paediatric practice
  • sweat test

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  • Contributors AB wrote first draft and amended following reviewer comments. The article was reviewed by all authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.