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How to use… a blood film
  1. Ben McNaughten,
  2. Anthony Thompson,
  3. Christine Macartney,
  4. Andrew Thompson
  1. Department of Paediatrics, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ben McNaughten, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast BT161TJ, UK; bmcnaughten095{at}


The diagnostic relevance of the blood film cannot be underestimated in the assessment of children with suspected primary or secondary haematological conditions. The blood film not only serves as a diagnostic tool but also allows for screening, monitoring of disease progression and therapeutic response in children with a variety of haematological conditions. This article outlines the appearance of normal paediatric and neonatal blood films. The technical aspects involved in preparing a blood film are discussed. Consideration is given to the indications for preparing a blood film and some of the limitations of blood films. Finally, attempts are made to highlight the role of the blood film in the diagnosis of some common paediatric and neonatal conditions.

  • haematology
  • blood film
  • blood smear
  • blood cell morphology
  • leukaemia
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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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