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 is the Test 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.

Preparation for the Test

Rinse and wash the mouth as instructed.

How will the Test Feel?

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

Why is the Test Performed?

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

The International Olympic Committee adopted the test many years ago to help detect male imposters among female athletes. When the test is used in this way, it's called the sex chromatin test.

This test may also help establish the sexual identity of newborns.

Buccal smear Risks

There are no risks.

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Review Date: 1/4/2013
Reviewed By: Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.
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