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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basic Tissue Orientation and Paraffin Embedding Technique. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Elliptical skin specimen with tips and mid sections.

Elliptical Skin Specimens

Many skin excisions are submitted in an elliptical shape. This is because it creates wounds that lie parallel to the skin tension lines, so the wounds tend to heal with less scaring. Frequently, elliptical skin specimens will have sutures to indicate how the specimen was oriented on the body. Embed these skin shapes so that the cut surface of the tip (broadest surface of the triangle) is down in the block face. This results in successive sections that progress towards the tip and become smaller over multiple sections. This orientation allows the residual tumor, if present, to be traced out to the tiniest point of the tip. The body, or mid sections, of the specimen will be placed on the cut surface to be serially sectioned at an angle perpendicular to the epidermis.