Re: Small cytologic specimen handling recommendations

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From:Karen Jaeb <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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In the past our lab had used a gelatin/formalin agar for cytology cell
blocks which was quite messy & somewhat time consuming.  We currently use
polymesh biopsy bags from Shandon-Lipshaw.  These are somewhat expensive,
but are excellent for any small, fragmented tissues such as endocervical
curettings, endometrial biopsies, or small needle biopsies as well as cell
block materials.  The bags speed grossing time for ECC's as the whole
sample can be quickly poured through a glass funnel into the bag & flushed
through with a formalin squirt bottle (rinsing well with tap water between
specimens of course).  After processing, the bag is peeled open & flattened
on the embedding center lid (cool area) and a single edge razor blade (hot)
is used to scrape the material from the bag inner surface.  This is easily
slid off the blade with hot forceps down into a partially filled metal
embedding mold & pressed down gently with the hot tamper being careful to
press down evenly & keep the material centered in the mold.  VERY tiny
samples are sometimes marked with a drop of hematoxylin - this holds up in
processing whereas eosin tends to wash out.  QUESTION - will the
hematoxylin residue affect IHC's?

At 10:10 PM 2/22/99 -0500, Gary W. Gill wrote:
>Can anyone recommend materials and methods or products for processing small
>specimens of loosely aggregated cells?  Is there, for example, material that
>when added to formalin will coalesce/solidify/harden etc. so that the cells
>will remain together and the bonding agent will remain intact through
>embedment in paraffin?
>Specifically, these are specimens such as fine needle aspirates, endometrial
>biopsies and endocervical curettages collected in formalin.  They are sent
>to the histo lab where they are individually wrapped [in tissue], dehydrated
>in alcohol, cleared in xylene, and embedded in paraffin.  Even if stained,
>these can be very difficult for the histotechs to see the specimens, which
>are small and blend in with the paraffin, and therefore difficult to
>determine how far to section into the block.  Also, the specimen
>disaggregates during processing so the cells are widely separated (or lost)
>and less useful than they could be otherwise.
>Thanks for any and all suggestions.
>Gary Gill

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