Peripheral Smear Examination
Understanding Peripheral Smear Examination
What is Peripheral Smear Examination?
A Peripheral Smear Examination test is used to evaluate your blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) and note any abnormal differences in their size, shape, or other physical appearances, such as those seen in various anemias, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, or other disorders.
Human blood comprises three major components, including red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets, and they are essential for various physiological processes in the body. RBCs are the abundant cells in the blood that consist of a protein called hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen throughout the body. WBCs are the part of the immune system that helps protect the body against infections and other diseases. Platelets are small cell fragments that help form clots to stop bleeding after an injury. As each of these blood cell types performs vital functions in the body, determining any sort of abnormalities in them helps provide important health information.
A Peripheral Smear Examination test also known as peripheral blood smear test is advised to detect and diagnose a wide range of conditions such as anemia, parasitic infections, bleeding disorders, certain cancers, and other blood-related diseases. This test can provide important insights into the patient's overall health status and guide further diagnostic and treatment decisions. It is also helpful to check any blood anomaly when you are being treated for a disease with medications that may affect blood cell production. You may need this test when you experience symptoms such as fatigue; bruising; unusual bleeding; consistent fever; jaundice; pinpoint red dots on the skin; enlarged spleen, liver, or lymph node; and unintentional weight loss.
No special preparation is needed for a peripheral blood smear test. You can eat or drink normally as per your daily routine. However, inform your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, and vitamins that you are currently taking as some of them can affect your test results.
Test result ranges are approximate and may differ slightly between different labs depending on the methodology and laboratory guidelines. Talk to your doctor about your specific test results. The results will help them determine your medical condition, make recommendations for lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise, decide whether or not medication will be required to manage your condition, and formulate an overall treatment plan.
What is Peripheral Smear Examination used for?
A Peripheral Smear Examination test can be done:
To monitor your overall health as part of routine health checkups.
When a complete blood count (CBC) test shows abnormal results.
If you have symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, or fever.
For more information about your bone marrow and blood cells if you are going for a stem cell transplant.
To identify diseases like anemia (low number of red blood cells), immune system disorders, blood cancers, bleeding disorders, etc.
To monitor the effects of treatments that are known to affect blood cells, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What does Peripheral Smear Examination measure?
A Peripheral Smear Examination test is performed to check the characteristics of blood cells including:
- Red blood cells (RBCs)
- White blood cells (WBCs)
By placing the blood sample on a specifically treated slide, these blood components are analyzed under a microscope for their shape, size, and number. Any irregularity in these cells indicates blood disorders or abnormality, the presence of parasites in the blood, etc. This test is also a beneficial tool in monitoring a blood disease or deciding whether a certain medication or therapy is working effectively or not.
Interpreting Peripheral Smear Examination results
The abnormal results depend upon the type of blood cell affected.
The abnormal red blood cells can be seen in conditions like:
Iron deficiency anemia
Sickle cell anemia
Hemolytic uremic syndrome
Polycythemia rubra vera
The abnormal white blood cells can be seen in conditions like:
Acute or chronic leukemia
Hepatitis C virus infection
Viral infections like Dengue
Fungal infections such as candidiasis
Parasitic infections such as pinworm
Other lymphoproliferative diseases
The abnormal platelets can be seen in conditions like:
Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Peripheral Smear Examination
Frequently Asked Questions about Peripheral Smear Examination
Q. Why is a Peripheral Smear Examination test done?
Q. Is there any risk associated with a peripheral smear test?
Q. Which diseases or conditions can a peripheral smear blood test detect?
Q. How is a Peripheral Smear Examination test performed?
Q. What are the symptoms of anemia?
Q. Can a Peripheral Smear Examination test detect leukemia?
Book Peripheral Smear Examination at-home
- Blood Smear [Internet]. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Medical Center; [Accessed 31 Jul. 2023]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=blood_smear
- Lynch EC. Peripheral Blood Smear. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 155. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK263/