Our Tests

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMN1 gene)

Also known as: SMN1

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Mutations in the SMN1 gene cause spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a disorder characterised by progressive symmetric muscle weakness that can be complicated by other features including joint contractures, scoliosis, growth failure and restrictive lung disease. SMA is classified into clinical subtypes depending on severity and age of onset. Inheritance of SMA is autosomal recessive. About 1 in 35 people are SMA carriers, but carrier risk does vary by ethnic group.

This test detects deletions of the SMN1 gene which cause >95% of cases of SMA. The result can have diagnostic, reproductive and familial implications.

Clinical Utility

Interpretation of SMA test results will depend on the purpose of testing (diagnostic or carrier assessment), the patient’s family history and test results for other family members; however generally speaking test results are interpreted in the following way:


Diagnostic testing

Test result Interpretation
Homozygous deletion (0 copies of SMN1 gene) Confirms a diagnosis of SMA
Heterozygous deletion (1 copy of SMN1 gene detected) Is supportive of but does not confirm a diagnosis of SMA. Patients with this result and a clinical diagnosis of SMA can have rare sequence level mutations on the non-deleted copy of the SMN1 gene, and additional testing may be recommended.
No deletion (2 copies of SMN1 gene detected) A diagnosis of SMA is unlikely


Carrier testing

Test result Interpretation
1 copy of the SMN1 gene detected Patient is a carrier of SMA
2 copies of the SMN1 gene detected Patient is unlikely to be a carrier of SMA, but the possibility cannot be excluded

This is an assay for heritable mutations. It may raise issues of ethics or consent that are different from most other investigations ordered in the routine care of a patient, and referral to a genetic counselling service may be appropriate. The interpretation of the result may also be dependent on the findings of other investigations.



Test Method

Copy number analysis of the SMN1 gene by MLPA.

Test Ordering

This test can be requested by any medical practitioner.

4 mL blood in EDTA (separate tube required). Specimens may be collected by the requesting practitioner or at any Sonic Healthcare pathology collection centre.

To help ensure the quality of the test, a genetic test should be done with a dedicated sample whenever possible i.e. a sample collected specifically for that test rather than a sample that is used for multiple tests.

We also recommend that the patient or another adult check the labelling of request forms and sample tubes.

Special Instructions

Please note whether or not the patient has a family history of SMA on the referral form. If there is a family history of SMA, please provide as much information as possible about the family pedigree and any previous testing that has been performed for other family members.



This test is also available as a part of a Preconception Carrier Screening panel (CF, SMA and Fragile X) for $385.

Medicare Rebate

This test is not rebated by Medicare. The laboratory assumes that the patient or client has provided informed financial consent for the test.

Turnaround Time

Up to 10 working days