A blood smear is a blood test that gives information about the number and shape of blood cells.
How the test is performed
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
The blood sample is sent to a lab, where the health care professional looks at 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 blood 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.
Other conditions under which the test may be performed:
Red blood cells normally are the same in size and color and have a lighter-colored area in the center. The blood smear is considered normal if there is:
Normal appearance of cells
Normal white blood cell differential
The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples.Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results mean there is an abnormality in the size, shape, color, or coating of the red blood cells.
Some abnormalities may be graded on a 4-point scale:
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Palm Beach Cancer Institute, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.