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Buccal smear

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.

Alternative Names

Sex chromatin test; Buccal swab

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Buccal smear. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap B.

Review Date 4/20/2015

Updated by: Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, FACMG, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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