A blood film or peripheral blood smear is a thin layer of blood smeared on a microscope slide and then stained in such a way to allow the various blood cells to be examined microscopically. Blood films are usually examined to investigate hematological problems (disorders of the blood) and, occasionally, to look for parasites within the blood such as malaria and filaria.
Blood films are made by placing a drop of blood on one end of a slide, and using a spreader slide to disperse the blood over the slide's length. The aim is to get a region, called a monolayer, where the cells are spaced far enough apart to be counted and differentiated. The monolayer is found in the "feathered edge" created by the spreader slide as it draws the blood forward.
The slide is left to air dry, after which the blood is fixed to the slide by immersing it briefly in methanol. The fixative is essential for good staining and presentation of cellular detail. After fixation, the slide is stained to distinguish the cells from each other.