AIMS: To compare methods of orienting cervical punch biopsies, since well oriented biopsies are needed to optimise the diagnosis and grading of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. METHODS: The orientation, the presence and preservation of the squamocolumnar junction, and the presence or absence of the surface layers of the squamous epithelium were compared in 345 cervical biopsies that had either been attached to paper (n = 112), floated directly into 10% formalin (n = 107), or floated into a solution of 10% formalin including 0.05% eosin (n = 126) in the colposcopy clinic. RESULTS: When the specimens were mounted on filter paper before fixation, they were more likely to be optimally oriented, to have a preserved squamocolumnar junction, and to have intact surface epithelium than specimens that were handled using the other methods, even when the specimens floated off the paper in transit. CONCLUSIONS: Cervical biopsy specimens should be mounted on paper before fixation and submission to the laboratory.
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