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Thick Blood Smear: Sensitivity and Specificity

Introduction: None written. Excerpt from the entry in Malaria:
this is for all infections. Obviously, greater parasitemia yields greater sensitivity. In addition, sensitivity is greatly dependent on laboratory experience. It is recommended that smears be repeated every 6-12 hours until the diagnosis is confirmed (if there is clinical suspicion); sensitivity is pretty good at >100 parasites/ul.

Finally - thick smears are more sensitive for detection of any malaria - while thin smears are generally used to better estimate parasitemia and identify the species.

similar results from three studies re: sensitivity (see citations).

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Associated Diagnoses:


50% sensitive, 100% specific


85% sensitive, 100% specific