Problems in Histopathological Technique


Prepared by


IMVS Division of Pathology

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Woodville Road, Woodville, South Australia 5011





Fragmented, crushed and overstained sections from small biopsies


This is a Haematoxylin and Eosin stained section of breast biopsy showing compression along one edge with overstaining with eosin in the compressed area.

This problem is twofold, related more to collection and overprocessing rather than to fixation. Crushing can occur at collection especially when fiberoptics are used, like an endoscope, from the forceps used to grab a piece of tissue. Also small biopsies, placed in fixative in clinics, are often fixed before they reach the laboratory. They are then often processed on automatic tissue processors with long schedules designed for much larger pieces of tissue. Biopsies end up massively shrunken, very dry, very brittle and difficult to cut. In other words - A tiny piece of overdone meat that it would be difficult to get a fork into let alone cut a decent section from.

The solution for these small biopsies is to process by hand on a short schedule, or automatic process on a 2 hour schedule, or microwave fix fresh tissue and hand process on a 1 hour schedule. All work well and give good cutting and staining results.




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© Roy C. Ellis 2002