The Italian pilot external quality assessment program for cystic fibrosis sweat test

Clin Biochem. 2016 May;49(7-8):601-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.12.014. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Objectives: Sweat chloride test is the gold standard test for cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnosis. In 2014 the Istituto Superiore di Sanità established the Italian pilot external quality assessment program for CF sweat test (IEQA-ST).

Design and methods: Ten laboratories, included among the 33 Italian CF Referral Centers, were selected and enrolled on the basis of their attitude to perform sweat test (ST) analysis by using methods recommended by the Italian Guidelines. They received three different sweat-like samples (normal, borderline and pathologic chloride concentration), with mock clinical indications, for analysis according to routine procedures. Assessment, performed by a panel of experts, covered analytical performance, interpretation and reporting of results; categories of "poor" and "satisfactory" performance were not defined. All data were managed through a web utility.

Results: The program identified important areas of interest and, in some case, of concern. It is important to underline that results are referred to a small proportion, i.e. about 30%, of Italian laboratories performing CF ST in the context of the Referral Centers.

Conclusions: Data collected highlight the importance of participation in EQA programs as it may improve laboratory/clinical performance; our study represents a model for the setting up of a large-scale EQA scheme for ST.

Keywords: CFTR gene; Chloride; Cystic fibrosis; EQA; Sweat test.

MeSH terms

  • Chlorides / analysis*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / standards*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Laboratories / standards*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Control*
  • Research Design
  • Sweat / chemistry*


  • Chlorides