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Histology and Cytology Laboratory

The Pathology laboratory consists of two areas: Histopathology and Cytopathology. Histology involves the study of tissue and Cytology involves the study of cells, both of which are derived from various organs of the human body.


The Histology laboratory is responsible for the preparation of tissue for diagnosis by Pathologists. The Histology laboratory receives any tissue or foreign body that has been removed by surgical or autopsy procedure. Tonsils, gallbladders, uteri, vas deferens, and moles are examples of tissue processed in the Histology department. As soon as the tissue is removed from the body, the tissue is fixed in a special liquid (10% formalin or other), to preserve the cellular makeup of the tissue in a lifelike manner. The Pathologist/Pathologist Assistant performs gross examination (physical examination on the tissue) to determine what testing procedures they will require to be performed by the technologists in order to make a diagnosis. After this, the specimens are processed in various grades of alcohol and xylene. The tissue specimens are then embedded in wax blocks, which are cut on a special instrument (microtome). The microtome produces thin slices of the specimen, which are transferred to slides. The slides are stained with a routine stain (to help differentiate between diseased and normal tissue). They are then delivered to the Pathologist for microscopic examination and diagnosis. In some cases, special stains may have to be performed on more complicated cases, to aid in diagnosis.


Sometimes, it is necessary for the surgeon to determine if he/she has removed all of the cancerous tissue from the patient while the patient is still under anesthetic. At this point, the tissue is sent from the Operating Room to the Histology department, quickly frozen and a slide is cut and prepared for review and a diagnosis is made, all within 20 minutes. It must be noted that not all testing can be performed in this manner due to the complexity of the testing methods.


The Cytology laboratory is capable of detecting microscopic cancerous and pre-cancerous changes that occur at the cellular level, often long before the clinical symptoms occur (i.e. the Pap smear). The cells are obtained by methods such as the Fine Needle Aspiration (lung, liver, thyroid, and breast); Washing and Brushing (esophagus, bile duct, lung, and bladder); or by gentle scraping of the visible outer lining of an organ (cervical Pap smear). In addition to detection of cancerous changes, diseases such as benign growths, various infections and yeast and trichomonas infestations, can be detected in this department. Cytology screening is often the initial test, performed prior to a more involved surgical operation or radiation/chemotherapy treatments. 


Histology Phone: 705-728-9090 Ext. 43226

Cytology Phone: 705-728-9090 Ext. 43225