Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


Description:This 1981 photograph depicted a few of the laboratory materials integral in the fixation of thin blood films by using the Giemsa staining procedure.

Thin smears

Thin smears consist of blood spread in a layer such that the thickness decreases progressively toward the feathered edge. In the feathered edge, the cells should be in a monolayer, not touching one another.

Prepare at least 2 smears per patient!

1.- Place a small drop of blood on the pre-cleaned, labeled slide, near its frosted end.

2.- Bring another slide at a 30-45° angle up to the drop, allowing the drop to spread along the contact line of the 2 slides.

3.- Quickly push the upper (spreader) slide toward the unfrosted end of the lower slide.
4.- Make sure that the smears have a good feathered edge. This is achieved by using the correct amount of blood and spreading technique.

5.- Allow the thin smears to dry. (They dry much faster than the thick smears, and are less subject to detachment because they will be fixed.)

6.- Fix the smears by dipping them in absolute methanol.


1.- Prepare fresh working Giemsa stain in a staining jar, according to the directions above. (The 40 ml fills adequately a standing Coplin jar; for other size jars, adapt volume but do not change proportions).

2.- Pour 40 ml of working Giemsa buffer into a second staining jar. Add 2 drops of Triton X-100. Adapt volume to jar size.

3.- Place slides into the working Giemsa stain (2.5%) for 45-60 minutes.

4.- Remove thin smear slides and rinse by dipping 3-4 times in the Giemsa buffer. Thick smears should be left in buffer for 5 minutes.

5.- Dry the slides upright in a rack.

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (4.64 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ 1981
Creation Date:1981
Photo Credit:
Links:CDC – Div. of Parasitic Diseases (DPDx); Blood Specimens: Processing
CDC – Div. of Parasitic Diseases (DPDx); Blood Specimens: Staining
CDC Organization
Skip Navigation Links.

Skip Navigation Links.
Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.