Problems in Histopathological Technique


Prepared by


IMVS Division of Pathology

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Woodville Road, Woodville, South Australia 5011






Here’s one for the cytologists as well as the histologists Staining of crystalloid mucoid material on the surface of sections or smears where the tissue has a high mucin content


This often obstructs nuclear detail and can be a big problem in some cytology preparations where a thick cervical smear has been made and especially around ovulation when the mucin of the cervix is thick.



  • Quickly dip the section or smear in 0.25% citric acid, before staining. This removes the crystallised mucin.

  • Wash briefly in water

  • and then stain normally

Citric acid is a weak acid that rapidly restores the characteristics of mucin precipitated by fixatives, particularly those containing alcohols, and weakens the bonds that make mucin sticky allowing it to be easily washed away.




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© Roy C. Ellis 2002