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Buccal smear

Sex chromatin test; Buccal swab

A buccal  (pronounced "buckle") smear is the painless removal of a sample of cells from the inside of your mouth (cheek) for study.

How the Test is Performed

The health care provider will gently scrape the inside of the cheek with a small spatula to collect cells for testing. Sometimes, you can do this yourself.

How to Prepare for the Test

Rinse and wash the mouth as instructed.

How the Test will Feel

You will feel a scraping sensation as cells are removed from the cheek.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to get cells for chromosome or DNA analysis, most often for genetic testing.

This test may also help establish sexual identity. When the test is used in this way, it's called the sex chromatin test.

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Barr body analysis buccal smear for staining sex chromatin mass - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:186-187.

  • Throat anatomy

    Throat anatomy - illustration

    Structures of the throat include the esophagus, trachea, epiglottis and tonsils.

    Throat anatomy

    illustration

  • Buccal  smear - illustration

    Buccal smear - illustration - illustration

    A buccal smear is a test where cells are taken from the cheek. Cells are collected by scraping the cheek with a spatula. The cells can be used for genetic testing, including the presence of the sample taken to the laboratory for evaluation. The cells are evaluated for the presence of Barr bodies (a mass seen in a normal female sex chromosome). The buccal smear test can confirm whether the patient is a male or female.

    Buccal smear - illustration

    illustration

    • Throat anatomy

      Throat anatomy - illustration

      Structures of the throat include the esophagus, trachea, epiglottis and tonsils.

      Throat anatomy

      illustration

    • Buccal  smear - illustration

      Buccal smear - illustration - illustration

      A buccal smear is a test where cells are taken from the cheek. Cells are collected by scraping the cheek with a spatula. The cells can be used for genetic testing, including the presence of the sample taken to the laboratory for evaluation. The cells are evaluated for the presence of Barr bodies (a mass seen in a normal female sex chromosome). The buccal smear test can confirm whether the patient is a male or female.

      Buccal smear - illustration

      illustration

    Tests for Buccal smear

     
     

    Review Date: 5/1/2017

    Reviewed By: Anna C. Edens Hurst, MD, MS, Assistant Professor in Medical Genetics, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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