Flow Cytometry

Also known as: FC, FCM.

What is flow cytometry?

Flow cytometry is a cutting edge medical test that uses a technique known as immunophenotyping. This technique is used to diagnose leukemias, lymphomas and immune system disorders.

What happens during the procedure?

The sample of blood, bone marrow or other tissue is treated with special antibodies combined with fluorescent molecules that identify different types of cells. When the cells then pass through a thin tube across the path of a laser beam the cells are identified by the wavelength of light emitted from the fluorescent molecules. The pattern of light determines the different types of cells. 

Is any special preparation needed?

No special preparation is needed for this test for blood samples. However, if a bone marrow specimen is required, special preparation including local or general anesthesia may be required.

What are the risk factors?

Local bleeding or trauma at the site where the blood is draw and infection are the main risks factors.

Reviewed by: Steven J. Melnick, PhD, MD

This page was last updated on: March 26, 2019 12:22 PM