histology repertoire

Repertoire and Turnaround times (last updated 14 Jul 2015)

 It is the responsibility of the requesting clinician to ensure that all relevant clinical information is provided on the request form and that the specimens reach the Histopathology laboratory promptly, and in a suitable condition. 

It is usually appropriate to place such specimens in formalin fixative but some specimens need to be received fresh for special investigations.  In such cases please speak to a pathologist at least a day in advance of the surgical procedure so that appropriate advice on arrangements can be given.

For routine histology specimens the tissue must be placed in an adequate sized container together with at least five times its volume of 10% formal saline (this is supplied to the operating theatres, clinics and wards) in order to ensure adequate fixation.  To ensure patient safety, the specimen must be labelled with the patient's name, hospital number and date of birth and be accompanied by a request form with all details completed, including the signature of the requesting clinician and a location for the return of the report.  Failure to provide this information will result in the sample being delayed and it may be returned to sender.   Similarly, failure to provide adequate clinical information may mean that the scope of the specimen report is limited, as the reporting pathologist does not have all the facts of the case.

The performance of histology tests and the interpretation of results can be adversely affected by suboptimal tissue preservation. It is important therefore that samples are placed in the appropriate medium promptly after collection. The laboratory should be alerted if a sample is being sent without first having been placed formalin.

As a rule small biopsies (e.g. needle and endoscopy specimens) fix rapidly and a result will usually be available within 48hrs of receipt, however, this cannot be guaranteed.  Larger specimens need to be fixed for 2 or 3 days before examination can begin, and reports on these cases will normally be written several days after receipt of the specimen.  More complicated cases requiring special investigations may take longer to report. 

Cellular Pathology Published Histology Turnaround Times – See Matrix below.

The Histology laboratory does not routinely send work to other laboratories. Work may  occasionally be sent away for specialist tests or for expert opinion however. Further information this is available by contacting the department directly.

Please note that results from specimens that require decalcification will take longer than the stated turnaround times below. Special methods are required to ensure optimal results from these specimens. The delay will depend on the type of sample sent.

If a clinically urgent result is required please contact a pathologist (01622 227470) and mark the request form 'Urgent'.

Red/orange stickers (‘dots’) must be attached to the specimen request forms for all patients on a a “Cancer Pathway” to clearly identify these to the laboratory.

Please note the Histology department does not offer specialised testing on the following:

·         renal biopsies,
·         muscle biopsies,
·         neuropathology specimens (including nerve biopsies),
·         ophthalmology specimens
These must be sent directly to the appropriate specialist centre by the clinician.
The surgical pathologists will be happy to advise on any problems relating to specimens and can be contacted through the Histopathology office 01622 227470.

Specimens and their containers


Additional Information Turnaround Time (from receipt to report issue) Request form type
Biopsy Histology pot 60ml formalin container (yellow top) Do not 'fridge. Check expiry date for use. Return containers to laboratory if expiry date has passed. 7 days Histology
Large specimens Specimen container of suitable size containing formalin. Do not 'fridge 10 days Histology
Trephines As for biopsy 3-4 weeks  
Frozen sections Dry specimen container of suitable size (do not place in formalin) Send to laboratory as soon as possible. Click here for details 30 minutes Histology
Skin Samples for immuno-fluorescence

Vial of Michel's media

Contact department

Arrange with laboratory before sending 24 hours (verbal report) Histology