Blood smear – Overview……..
Definition of Blood smear:
A blood smear is a blood test that gives information about the number and shape of blood cells.
How the test is performed:
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to a lab, where the health care professional looks at the it under a microscope. Or, the blood may be examined by an automated machine. The smear shows the number and kinds of white blood cells (differential), abnormally shaped blood cells, and gives a rough estimate of white cell and platelet counts.
How to prepare for the test:
No special preparation is necessary.
How the test will feel:
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed:
This test may be performed as part of a general health exam to help diagnose many illnesses. Or, your doctor may order this test if you have signs of a blood disorder.
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
Clinical hemoglobin C
Hairy cell leukemia
Any known or suspected blood disorder
Monitoring the side effects of chemotherapy
Red blood cells, sickle cell
Red blood cells, tear-drop shape
Red blood cells, normal
Red blood cells, elliptocytosis
Red blood cells, spherocytosis
Acute lymphocytic leukemia – photomicrograph
Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells
Malaria, microscopic view of cellular parasites
Malaria, photomicrograph of cellular parasites
Red blood cells, sickle cells
Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer
Red blood cells, target cells
Formed elements of blood
Reviewed last on: 2/13/2009
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Newland J. The peripheral blood smear. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 161.