Pathology Terminology

Accession/Accessioning – the process used for entering samples into a tracking system

Cassette – a container used to hold tissues during processing

Cover slip – a rigid, transparent material placed atop stained tissue to keep them flat

Cover slipper – an automated device used to affix a cover slip to microscopic slides

Decalcification – a process that uses acid to remove calcium from histologic samples so that they can be cut on a microtome

Fixative – a chemical that preserves tissue in its current state

Formalin – a formaldehyde solution that is dissolved to a 10% concentration and (usually) buffered to a neutral pH that is used to fix tissue

Frozen Section – an expedited processing method where surgical tissue is frozen in OCT and rapidly stained for microscopic examination while a patient is undergoing surgery – sometimes called an intraoperative consultation

Gross/Grossing – the initial examination, description, and dissection of a pathology specimen

Microtome – the device used by histotechnologists to cut thin (1 – 14µ thick) sections from paraffin embedded tissue blocks

Paraffin block – wax blocks containing fixed tissue that can be cut on a microtome for mounting on microscopic slides

Paraformaldehyde – a 4% formaldehyde solution used to fix tissue

Stain/Staining – adding pigments, dyes, or antibody markers to tissue to aid in microscopic exam

Tissue processor – an automated device that prepares tissues for histologic examination

Staging – a standardized process to assess severity of cancer based on Tumor, lymph Nodes, & Metastasis (TNM)

Tissue stainer – an automated device used to add pigments, dyes, or antibodies to tissue on glass slides