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Buccal smear

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

  • Alternative Names
    • Sex chromatin test; Buccal swab

  • 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.

  • 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.