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Polycytes are white blood blood cells (neutrophils) that have a hypersegmented nucleus. A normal (or polymorphonuclear) neutrophil has a nucleus with 3 to 5 interconnected segments. In a polycyte, the number of segments is greater than 5.

A check for abnormal red blood cells is performed systematically when irregularities are found in an automated complete blood count (CBC) or when a blood smear (examination of the blood under a microscope) is specifically ordered by the doctor. Even though all possible varieties of abnormal white blood cells are checked for, unless a specific request is made, the report mentions only the abnormal varieties found in the specimen. Polycyte results are expressed as “a few” or “several.”

The presence of polycytes generally confirms vitamin B12 deficiency anemia (megaloblastic anemia). Polycytes can also be observed during chemotherapy.

Term of the Week

Predictive medicine

Medicine that links medical knowledge with data to predict a patient’s potential health problems. Examples include artificial intelligence and genetics.