Specimen preparation encompasses all the steps allowing tissue specimens to be sectioned and stained for diagnosis purpose. The standard steps are: Grossing, Fixation, Processing, Paraffin Embedding and Sectioning using a microtome to produce very thin sections that are placed on a microscope slide ready for staining. Frozen sectioning with a cryostat is an alternative technique that is often used during surgery where the surgeon needs to locate a tumor margin to ensure it has all been removed.
The process uses a haematoxylin dye to stain cell nuclei blue and an eosin dye to stain other structures pink or red. Special stains use a variety of dyes and techniques to stain particular tissues, structures or pathogens (such as bacteria) to assist pathologists with tissue-based diagnosis. When morphology and routine staining cannot provide all the diagnostic answers, pathologists turn to advanced staining techniques: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH). IHC detects the presence of critical marker proteins in tissue samples while ISH detects target RNA or DNA sequences.
Laboratories always need to improve productivity, enhance quality and lower costs. IT Solutions associated to various lab management principles aim at improving sample tracking, workflows, storage of slides and blocks, and data management.