General Diagnostic Testing

Processing Surgical Specimens

Histology is the study of tissue specimens. The preparation and processing of surgical specimens is designed to assist the pathologist in reaching a diagnosis. The process of fixation, dehydration, clearing and embedding surgical specimens is very important in rendering diagnosis.


Each jar and test requisition is checked for the corresponding case number, barcode label, patient name and date of birth before any processing begins.

All tissue is removed from the specimen container by placing the contents into a pre-labeled cassette. Any tissue that remains in the container can be removed with tweazers. The exception to this rule is prostatic biopsies - the fixative fluid from prostatic biopsies is saved for processing,

Gross descriptions for prostatic biopsies, bladder biopsies and vas deferens are done by a histotechnologist. Specimens that are grossed in by non-pathologists will be sent to Oncodiagnostic Lab., Inc. for evaluation.

Gross descriptions include:

  • Unique accession number assigned to patient (placed on requisition form, gross exam template form, and speciment containers)
  • The site of the prostate needle biopsies is recorded on the prostate biopsy gross exam template form, in addition to the length and number of core biopsies per container
  • The characteristics of other biopsy material, i.e., bladder urethra, penis are recorded on the biopsy gross exam template form. The size and number of tissue fragments are recorded. Any specimen container which contains fragments larger than 5mm will be forwarded to Oncodiagnostic Laboratory for processing

The cassetes are closed and placed into the microwave processor rack in numerical order for quality control. The rack is then placed onto the Microwave Tissue Processor, and the processor is started. After the tissue is finished processing, it is embedded, cut and stained.