Incyte Diagnostics turn around time statistics reveal 90% of surgical specimens are reported out within 35 hours and 94% of surgical specimens are reported out within 38 hours.  


Here is some information to assist your office in the proper handling of specimens sent for histologic testing.


Specimen Labeling


Specimen containers (plastic bags and bottles of various sizes) are available from Incyte Diagnostics or your hospital laboratory. Each container must be carefully and legibly labeled with:


  • Patient Name(s) 
  • Type of Tissue 
  • Site of Specimen Removal 
  • Date of Specimen Removal
  • Referring Physician 


The need for meticulous accuracy in labeling cannot be overstated. We strongly recommend that labels be made and applied to each individual specimen as it is received from a patient. Preparing these labels in advance may seem more efficient, but in our experience, can eventually lead to someone putting the right specimen into the wrong container. Specimen mix-ups can have devastating results.


Specimen Integrity


All fresh human tissues can transmit blood and particle borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. For this reason, all specimens must be handled with the principles of universal precautions in mind.


Human tissues are inherently fragile, and successful pathologic examination requires that they be handled gently. Specimens should never be allowed to dry out, and immediate steps must be taken to preserve them. In most cases, this is accomplished by chemical fixation with a solution of neutral buffered formalin. Tissue can also be preserved by other fixatives, nutrient fluids (useful for DNA and chromosomal studies), and by freezing.  Please see the Special Procedures page for the specifics of specimen handling.




The majority of routine specimens can be placed directly into a solution of 10% neutral buffered formalin for preservation and transport. However, accurate diagnostic and prognostic evaluation increasingly demands the use of various special procedures – many of which require either unfixed or specially fixed tissue. Please see the Special Procedures page for the proper handling of breast biopsies, lymph node biopsies, skin biopsies for immunofluorescence, and biopsies of suspected malignant tumors, bone marrow aspirations and multiple biopsies.


10% Neutral Buffered Formalin (NBF)


This fixative is used for all routine tissues. The ideal fixation time is between 12-24 hours, depending on the size and type of tissue. The specimen should be placed in an appropriate sized container to allow for one part of tissue to at least 10 parts of fixative by volume. Containers and formalin fixative are available either from the Incyte Diagnostics main office, or from the hospital laboratories.




Vapors – keep the containers closed both before and after the specimen is placed into the container. Avoid contact with skin, and, if necessary, use nitrile-based (not latex) plastic gloves.