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Target cells

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

These are red blood cells with characteristics that resemble a shooting target:

  • central staining
  • ring of pallor
  • outer rim of staining

Target cells are abnormally resistant to saline haemolysis.

Causes include:

  • obstructive liver disease
  • thalassaemia
  • haemoglobin C and D disease
  • sickle-cell disease
  • iron deficiency anaemia (small numbers may be seen)
  • after splenectomy

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