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Alternative namesSex chromatin test
DefinitionA buccal smear is a painless test in which cells are taken from the tongue and evaluated for the presence of Barr bodies (a type of mass seen in normal female sex chromosomes).
How the test is performedCells are collected by scraping the tongue with a spatula. The cells are then placed on a slide and sent to a laboratory for evaluation.
How to prepare for the testNo preparation is necessary for this test.
How the test will feelYou will feel a scraping sensation as cells are removed from the tongue.
Why the test is performedIn the past, this test was used to indicate:
Today, a health care provider who suspects any of these abnormalities is most likely to perform a full chromosome analysis (called karyotyping) rather than a buccal smear.
The buccal smear is primarily used in the Olympic Games or other sporting events if the authorities believe a man is trying to compete as a woman.
Normal ValuesThe normal result for a female is an indication of the presence of Barr bodies, confirming the gender as female.
What abnormal results meanIf no Barr bodies appear, the test subject is a male.
What the risks areThere are no risks associated with the buccal smear.
Update Date: 1/31/2003Douglas R. Stewart, M.D., Division of Medical Genetics, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT