Thursday, September 18, 2008


Cancer can often be detected in the arrangement of cells in a tissue sample. After a sample tissue is taken from the patient, it is sent to the histotechnician (HT), who prepares the tiny sections of body tissues for microscopic examination by a pathologist. Working closely with the pathologist, the histologic technician processes tissue biopsies removed during surgery. The tissue is cut into very thin slices, mounted on slides and stained with special dyes to make the cell details visible under the microscope.

By examining the section of tissue, the pathologist and the surgeon can learn if disease is present, or if it has spread, and decide the best course of treatment for the patient. The histotechnologist (HTL) has advanced training in how and why specimens are collected and processed for testing. That expertise qualifies the histotechnologist to manage even unexpected situations in the laboratory, such as solving technical or instrument problems, understanding the underlying health and disease causes of unusual test results, and evaluating new laboratory techniques and procedures.

Histotechnicians and histotechnologists must work quickly, because they are frequently under pressure to deliver results while the patient is in surgery. They work with fragile, delicate instruments as well as knives, chemicals, and glass slides. They must value precision and be comfortable working with equipment that requires careful monitoring.

When doctor takes tissue sample form a patient, a histotechnologist must possesses the skill to prepare the tissue into tiny sections, stain with special dye and mount on slides. This will make the cell details visible under the microscope when examined by a pathologist.

Breast Cancer Tissue

Breast tissue as seen in microscope

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