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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 16, 2020

Basophil counting in hematology analyzers: time to discontinue?

  • Johannes J. M. L. Hoffmann ORCID logo EMAIL logo


Basophils (basophilic granulocytes) are the least abundant cells in blood. Nowadays, basophils are included in the complete blood count performed by hematology analyzers and therefore reported in practically all patients in whom hematologic investigations are requested. However, hematology analyzers are not reliable enough to report clinically useful results. This is due to a combination of very high analytical imprecision and poor specificity, because the chemical and physical methods used for basophil counting in hematology analyzers are ill-defined and thus basophils are not well recognized by the analyzers. As a result, false basophil counts are quite common. In view of increasing analytical performance demands, hematology laboratories should stop reporting basophil counts produced by hematology analyzers. Suggestions for alternative pathways are presented for those situations where basophils are of clinical relevance.

Corresponding author: Dr. Johannes J. M. L. Hoffmann, H3L Consult, Nuenen, The Netherlands, E-mail: .

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.


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Received: 2020-10-14
Accepted: 2020-12-02
Published Online: 2020-12-16
Published in Print: 2021-04-27

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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