Red Cell Morphology

target cells Numerous target cells (leptocytes) in a dog with severe cholestasis. Red cells with this shape are a common, but relatively non-specific, finding in dogs.
This section is used to report the finding of morphologic abnormalities of red cells detected during the microscopic examination of the stained blood film. For example, the specific type of shape abnormality (poikilocytosis) is reported along with a qualitative estimation of its prevalence (many, few, very few...). Spherocytes, schizocytes, acanthocytes, and eccentrocytes are among the most commonly identified red cell shape abnormalities.

Also reported here would be the presence of Heinz bodies, excessive red cell size variation (anisocytosis), and increased numbers of polychromatophilic red cells (immature anucleated red blood cells, which correspond to reticulocytes).

Skill and experience are needed to correctly identify significant poikilocytosis and distinguish it from artifactual changes caused by poor sample handling and/or smear-making technique.

For more information about the diagnostic relevance of red blood cell changes, please refer to RBC morphology.

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