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Specimen Information

Tips for Specimen Collection, Handling, Fixation, and Labeling

  • Specimen Collection

    When submitting specimens for histopathological diagnosis, information provided by the surgeon is key for the pathologist. The Requisition Form provided in the kit should indicate the following:

    • whether the specimen was an incisional or excisional biopsy
    • thorough description of the lesion by color, size, shape, texture, consistency, the duration of presence, along with any associated symptoms
    • any pertinent clinical history
    • any possible clinical and differential diagnoses
    • drawings of the biopsy area can be useful
    • any related radiographs

    The more information provided, the more accurately the pathologist can diagnose your patient’s condition.

  • Handling and Fixation of the Specimen

    Specimens for routine tissue processing should be submitted in 10% neutral buffered formalin fixative (specimen container with fixative supplied in biopsy kit, free of charge).

    • Ratio of fixative to specimen should be 15-20 times the size of the specimen.
    • Immediate submersion in formalin after removing the tissue from the body is crucial to prevent any autolysis or putrefaction.

    *Over time, fixative may evaporate from stored specimen containers. If crystals are seen in the specimen containers, do not use them and do not attempt to reconstitute the solution with water. This will result in a sub-optimal fixative solution and will not fix the specimen properly for processing and diagnosis.

    • Before placing the specimen bottle in the plastic bag provided, ensure that the lid is properly closed in order to avoid any spillage and possible damage to the tissue due to not being submerged completely in the formalin fixative.
    • DO NOT place the absorbent pad supplied in the plastic bag inside the specimen container with the formalin. Doing so can damage the specimen. The purpose of the absorbent pad is to absorb any spilled formalin in the bag.
  • Labeling

    Specimen containers must be labeled with the following:

    • full name of the patient
    • date of birth
    • submitting doctor’s name
    • site from where the biopsy specimen is taken
    • date the specimen was collected.

    If an improperly labeled specimen is received by the laboratory, a reasonable attempt will be made to confirm its identification. If a patient specimen identification confirmation cannot be made, the specimen will be returned to the contributing dentist/surgeon.


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