Specimen requirements

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All specimens should be sent to the laboratory in an appropriately labelled specimen pot that is large enough to easily accommodate the specimen. It is unsafe practice to label specimen pots in advance of a procedure.

High risk specimens

Specimens that potentially contain category 3 pathogens (for example, mycobacterium, HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C) must be clearly labelled as HIGH RISK on both the request card and on the specimen pot to ensure the health and safety of all staff. Please refer to the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) website for a comprehensive list of Category 3 human pathogens.

The date and time that the specimen is taken should be recorded on the request card for all high risk specimens to enable the laboratory to calculate the fixation time on receipt. This information will minimise the infection risk to staff and prevent undue delay to processing. All high risk specimens are to be fully fixed before being processed by the laboratory.

Frozen sections, muscle biopsies and immunofluorescence investigations will not be performed on any high risk or potentially high risk specimen

Frozen sections

All intra-operative frozen sections should be booked with the laboratory by contacting the laboratory on 0161 701 2240 to ensure the availability of the appropriate scientific and consultant staff. Every attempt will be made to provide frozen sections during the laboratory opening hours, providing appropriate clinical and technical staff are available.

Frozen sections should be booked 24 hours in advance after discussion with a Consultant Pathologist. If this is not possible, for example in an emergency, a Consultant Pathologist should be contacted as soon as possible. When booking a frozen section, please provide the following information;

  • Patient information
  • High risk status
  • Clinical information
  • Clinician name
  • Theatre number
  • Contact number

The specimen for frozen section should be transported to the laboratory in an appropriately labelled dry specimen container and must arrive by 5.00pm. Formalin must not be added. Specimens should be handed directly to the technical staff at histopathology specimen reception as a matter of urgency to ensure a timely report is issued.

Frozen sections will not be performed on any high risk or potentially high risk specimen.

When the specimen is ready to be sent to the laboratory, or if there is a delay in theatre, please contact the laboratory. If a frozen section is no longer required, please contact the laboratory immediately to cancel.

Urgent specimens

If a specimen requires an urgent report, the laboratory should be contacted on 0161 701 2240 to request this. However, it is important to state that specimens for histological analysis do need at least 24 hours fixation and a further 24 hours preparation time.  It is sometimes unwise to shorten this time, as it puts the quality of the specimen at risk.   Please liaise with us and we can advise you on the optimum way to deal with the sample, bearing in mind both the need for a rapid result and the requirement for good histology to make an accurate diagnosis.

Molecular diagnostics – FISH

Molecular Diagnostics is situated over two floors, 4th Floor Paediatric Histology and 5th Floor Research. This service offers Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridisation (FISH) for soft tissue tumours and neuroblastomas (turnaround time of 3-4 days) involving approximately 30 probes. The department utilises a Leica DM2500 Fluorescent Microscope and image capture system and is enrolled in UKNEQAS for Cytogenomics (CEQAS) quality assurance scheme. Any clinician wishing to request FISH should discuss this with the reporting Pathologist. It is not appropriate to contact the laboratory directly to request FISH.


The Paediatric Immunohistochemistry Laboratory is situated within the Paediatric Histopathology on the 4th floor of the Children’s’ Hospital and provides IHC testing for our ISO 15189 accredited histology service. We currently house an automated Ventana Ultra BenchMark staining machine which we use to carry out our routine clinical work. We are enrolled in the UKNEQAS ICC quality assurance scheme.

Electron Microscopy

We offer electron microscopy via the electron microscopy suite in Clinical Sciences Building.

Electron microscopy will be undertaken at the specific request of the reporting Consultant Histopathologist. If the user would specifically like to request electron microscopy on a specimen, an appropriate Consultant Histopathologist must be contacted prior to biopsy.


The department regularly receives requests for expert/second opinion from other hospitals. Similarly, the department also refers cases to other services for expert opinion, diagnostic services and in response to service pressures. The following are the most commonly used.

Type Address
Reporting/Vacancy cover


NHS Department, 6 St Johns Place, London



Manchester Centre for Genetic Medicine

6th Floor, St Mary’s Hospital, Oxford Road, Manchester

M13 9WL

Mitochondrial Studies Muscle

NSCAG Newcastle-Dental Hospital

Newcastle University -Medical School

Cytogenetics, Second Opinion Christie hospital
Immunofluorescence on skin biopsies Leeds Teaching Hospital


(Last reviewed February 2019)