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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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Practices for Specimen Loss

The following steps can be taken if you open a cassette and it appears that NO specimen is within:
  1. Look carefully in the cassette lid and interior corners and crevices. If you still find no visible tissue, ALWAYS have a second (or even third person) verify and help you check for any tiny fragments that you might have missed.
  2. Check the gross description, it may indicate that the specimen was very minute and was not expected to survive processing.
  3. If the specimen has been submitted in lens paper or a mesh biopsy bag, scrape all surfaces with a warmed, dull knife and transfer ANY, perhaps unseen, cells or particles to a mold where you have placed a small amount of molten paraffin. Anything microscopic that might be present will be likely to "float" off the knife, and can then be transferred to the block where it may be visible in the final section.
  4. Retain the lens paper or mesh bag in the cassette lid to document that "no tissue was seen."
  5. Individual laboratory procedure should be followed when documenting specimen loss on the accession log and/or laboratory information system (LIS).
  6. Missing fragments (less than dictated) that have been inadvertently dropped, can sometimes be retrieved, salvaged, and identified by retaining cassette lids in a separate bag for 24 to 48 hours (or until the case is signed out).