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

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Inadequate Decalcification

Tissue that is not fully decalcified is as common as tissue that is over-decalcified. However, inadequate decalcification prior to processing can often be remedied by surface decalcification of the embedded tissue block.
Characteristics of inadequate decalcification include:
  • Driven by rapid turn around time in laboratories
  • Inaccurate determination of end-point
  • Decal solution is too slow or too weak - choose stronger solution for rapid turn around
  • Leads to poor microtomy sections or tissue pops out of block
  • Calcium that is not removed stains dark blue with the H&E stain and may hinder diagnosis
  • Surface decalcification can be used in these instances to improve microtomy and staining results