What is the role of lab testing in the workup of malaria?

Updated: Jun 03, 2020
  • Author: Thomas E Herchline, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Specific tests for malaria infection should be carried out, as follows:

  • Microhematocrit centrifugation (sensitive but incapable of speciation)

  • Fluorescent dyes/ultraviolet indicator tests (may not yield speciation information)

  • Thin (qualitative) or thick (quantitative) blood smears (standard): Note that 1 negative smear does not exclude malaria as a diagnosis; several more smears should be examined over a 36-hour period

  • Alternatives to blood smear testing (used if blood smear expertise is insufficient): Include rapid diagnostic tests, polymerase chain reaction assay, nucleic acid sequence-based amplification, and quantitative buffy coat

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