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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

Hot zone

A hot zone is a section of a facility (sometimes an entire facility or even a city district) where there is a high risk of contamination by patients with an infectious disease. All individuals entering a hot zone must respect appropriate protective measures. By analogy, “cold zone” and “warm zone” are used to refer to areas where there is no infected individual or only individuals suspected of having an infection.