Reexamining the Minimum Sweat Rate Requirement for Sweat Chloride Testing

Catherine L. Omosule, Dennis J. Dietzen, Stephen M. Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Guidelines for sweat chloride testing endorse a minimum sweat rate for reporting results. Bilateral sweat collection is recommended, but if both sites fail to meet the minimum rate (quantity not sufficient, QNS), the test should be repeated. In this study, we examine the correlation between sweat rate and sweat chloride concentration ([Cl-]), assess the accuracy of specimens collected at suboptimal rates, and investigate the use of pooled bilateral specimens for chloride measurement. Methods: Pearson correlation was employed to analyze the relationship between sweat rate and chloride concentration, [Cl-], in 674 macroduct collections. Weighted kappa was evaluated to determine cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnostic classification concordance for 18 tests with paired arms above vs below the minimum sweat rate. Deming regression was applied to compare [Cl-] from pooled bilateral specimens vs neat specimens in 27 collections with residual volume available after clinical testing. Results: Pearson correlation of sweat rate vs [Cl-] was minimal (r = -0.0735) across specimens with varying rates and [Cl-]. There was substantial agreement in CF diagnostic classification between arms for bilateral collections with discordant sweat rates. Regression analysis of [Cl-] in pooled vs nonpooled specimens revealed a slope of 0.984 and an intercept of 0.796. Conclusions: Negligible correlation of sweat rate and [Cl-] suggests the minimum sweat rate for macroduct collectors may be overly stringent. Reporting of [Cl-] in specimens with ≥10 μL (rate ≥0.3 μL/min) may reduce QNS rates without compromising diagnostic accuracy. Preliminary data suggests pooling of bilateral collections may be a feasible option to achieve the required volume for testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1091
Number of pages8
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023


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