Target Cells

Target cells are thin red blood cells that have an overabundance of cell membrane, which causes the cells to assume a bell shape while in circulation. When the cells are flattened out on a smear, the top of the bell is pushed to the center creating a central target or “bulls-eye.” Target cells are most commonly seen in the following clinical conditions:

  • Liver disease
  • Hemoglobinopathies
  • Thalassemia
  • Post-splenectomy
  • Iron deficiency
  • Drying artifact with uneven distribution on smear
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