Paraffin embedding of small, thin tissue samples requires specific expertise for optimal orientation before tissue sectioning. This study evaluates the real-life utility of the agar pre-embedding technique for small skin biopsies with regards to lengthening of work times, problems in orientation (re-embedding) and ancillary techniques (immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation) between two high work flow pathology laboratories, one of which routinely uses the agar pre-embedding technique and one which does not. The mean time required for pre-embedding in agar was 30.4 s, but time for paraffin embedding for agar pre-embedded samples was shorter than the traditional method (177 vs 296 s; p<0.005). The number of skin samples requiring re-embedding was significantly higher with the traditional embedding method (p<0.005). No problems in immunoreactivity were observed in all 1900 reactions performed with 17 different antibodies. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation analysis was optimised with a prolonged protease K incubation time (21 vs 18 min).
- in situ hybridisation
- laboratory management
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MR, MP, LM and FG contributed equally.
Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.
Contributors MR, MP, LV: collected the data. SS: performed the FISH analysis. MG, AP, LA: performed the agar pre-embedding at cut up. RF: critically revised the manuscript. FG, LM: wrote the manuscript and devised the study.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.