Sweat test

What is a sweat test?

Sweat tests measure the amount of chloride in sweat. High chloride levels may indicate cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that can have serious effects on the lungs and digestive system. Early detection can greatly assist in the management of the disease.

Your doctor may have requested a sweat test because of a positive neonatal screening test for cystic fibrosis or because of certain clinical symptoms.

How is the test performed?

A chemical called pilocarpine is applied to a patch of skin along with an electrical current to help increase sweating. A sweat sample is collected from the skin, and the chloride level in the sweat is measured in the laboratory. On rare occasions, we may have to repeat the procedure to collect enough sweat for testing. This has no effect on whether the test result will be positive or negative.

How long will it take?

The overall procedure takes up to one hour to complete.

Will it hurt?

The procedure is very safe and has been in use for many years. Because the skin is heated slightly as the electrical current is applied, the patient may feel a mild irritation. Any discomfort is usually minor.

Where can the test be performed?

Test are performed Monday–Thursday only at designated procedural centres. For your nearest procedural centre please visit Collection Centre Locations, or telephone Patient Services Support on 1300 732 030.

How much will it cost?

All patients will be privately billed for this test. Please discuss the cost of this test when making your appointment.


Further information

Lab Tests Online Australasia: Sweat chloride

If you have further questions, please speak with your doctor, or telephone Patient Services Support on 1300 732 030.


Item number 34077 - Issue Date April 2019