Getting the Most out of Histopathology

Getting the Most out of Histopathology

TO achieve the best results from histopathology submissions the collection and fixation of tissues, and the submission of relevant clinical information is vital. The better the material and information we receive the better the result you will get.


Specimens should be placed in fixative as soon as possible after surgical excision, ideally within 30 minutes to limit tissue artefact. We provide biopsy pots containing 10% neutral buffered formalin in two sizes 30ml & 60ml. These are supplied within a secondary pot with absorbent pad suitable for submission of diagnostic specimens. Please do not use the larger outer pots to submit samples as they are not designed for this purpose.

If the sample is too large

Please do not squeeze large samples into a pot as this will not allow for adequate fixation and the sample will take the form of the pot!

For larger samples (for example mammary tumours, limbs, whole tissue samples such as spleen etc.), we would advise that the sample is fixed in a larger container with lid at the practice, then wrapped in formalin soaked gauze/tissue and double bagged. To ensure good fixation the recommendation is 1:10 tissue/formalin. A series of partial incisions 1cm apart into the centre of the tissue will also aid tissue permeation and fixation. De-bulking limbs of muscle and skin that will not be required for assessment will improve fixation. The length of time the sample should be left to fix at the surgery will depend on the size/type of tissue and method of transportation to the laboratory also.

Some samples can be cut in half/sectioned into proportions and submitted in separate, labelled biopsy pots. They should be accompanied by a sketch or digital image of the original specimen to depict sectioning and orientation of the sample. If margin evaluation


Use pots provided by us as these are fit for purpose and contain secondary packaging that complies to P650 regulations required to transport diagnostic specimens.

Using pots that are not fit for purpose/packaged appropriately put staff handling the material at risk. Under no circumstances should a sharps bin, glass jar, Tupperware containers or narrow necked pot be used in replacement of a biopsy pot. The same rules apply when using our own dedicated courier service.

Help us to help you

One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of submitting laboratory samples for histopathology or cytology is the inclusion of vital information about the lesion and clinical history. We know that in a busy veterinary practice it is can be difficult to find the time to fill out submission form details. However, more often than not by providing the pathologist with a concise and relevant patient history, you will receive a more accurate and diagnostically useful report.

For further information please contact the laboratory on 01379 854180.
A full fact sheet is also available for additional guidance.