Glossary Of Terms

Glossary Of Terms

CT/NG - abbreviation used for Chlamydia trachomatis/Neisseria gonorrhea.

Cytology – the microscopic study of individual cells. Cytologic examinations may be performed on body fluids or brushings.

Fixative Solution – a medium, such as a solution or spray, that preserves tissues or cells. Most commonly used is formalin but may sometimes utilize alcohol (ETOH).

Flow Cytometry – a technique utilizing electronic detection for counting and examining living cells suspended in a fluid stream. Flow cytometry is routinely utilized in the determination of certain lymphomas and other hematologic disorders.

Formalin – (aka: 10% neutral buffered formalin) a solution for fixation of most routine tissue samples consisting of a dilution of 37% formaldehyde saturated with buffer salts.

Fresh Specimen – a tissue sample sent to Pathology in a container without fixative solution. The designation of "fresh" IS NOT synonymous to "frozen section" (see separate definition). "Fresh" only indicates the absence of fixative solution, not a specific procedure.

Frozen Section – a method of rapid microscopic examination. The tissue is frozen and then thinly sectioned to yield an intra-operative diagnosis or impression. The procedure is performed on surgically excised tissue samples sent to Pathology either fresh or in saline.

GMS stainGomori's Methenamine Silver staining identifies fungi in tissue sections and smears. Is different from Gram Stain in that GMS (performed in Histology Lab) is used to identify fungi and Gram Stain (performed in Microbiology Lab) is used to identify bacteria.

Gluteraldehyde – fixative utilized for membrane and intracellular organelle preservation for analysis by electron microscopy.

Gram stain – a method of identifying Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria through a staining process using an iodine solution and crystal violet.

Histology – the microscopic study of tissue structure. Performed by examining a thin slice (section) of tissue under a light microscope.

RPMI – (aka; RPMI 1640) Roswell Park Memorial Institute tissue culture media; a nutrient media used in cell and tissue culture for the growth of human lymphoid cells to be analyzed by Flow Cytometric technique.

Surgical Pathology – a field in anatomic pathology concerned with examination of tissues removed from living patients for the purpose of diagnosis of disease and guidance in the care of patients.

Tzanck Smear – (aka: Tzanck test) the examination of fluid from a bullous lesion to identify altered epithelial cells associated with characteristic lesions due to varicella, herpes zoster, and herpes simplex.

Zeus Fixative – a transport media specific to tissue biopsies obtained for analysis and diagnosis by direct immunofluorescence.

Gynecologic terms:

Diagnostic Pap Smear – ordered by the referring physician using that distinction based on finding that one or more of the following circumstances applies to the patient:

  1. previous diagnosis of vaginal, cervical or uterine cancer that has been or is presently being treated
  2. previous abnormal pap smear
  3. any current abnormal findings of the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries or adnexa
  4. patient presents complaints in reference to her reproductive system
  5. the physician identifies any sign or symptom that might be related to a gynecologic disorder

High Risk Patient – (A) the patient is of childbearing age and has had an examination that indicated the presence of cervical or vaginal cancer or some other abnormality during any of the preceding three years.

(B) regardless of the patient's age, she is considered to be at high risk of developing cervical or vaginal cancer due to at least one of the following factors:

  1. early onset of sexual activity (under 16 years old)
  2. multiple (+ 5) sexual partners
  3. history of a sexually transmitted disease, including HIV
  4. fewer than three negative Pap smears within the previous seven years
  5. Mother took DES (diethylstilbestrol) during pregnancy with patient

Routine Pap Smear – endocervical scraping/brush/swab obtained during a routine pelvic exam in a patient without a history of cervical epithelial abnormality.

Additional Terms:

"Do Micro" – confusing term that should not be used as it is unclear as to the type of examination requested; microbiologic culture vs. microscopic examination.

Laboratory – separate from Histology Lab. Includes Microbiology, Chemistry, Hematology, Blood Bank, Coagulation, Immunology and Uranalysis.

Histology Lab – part of Pathology Department. Processes tissues and body fluids for histologic examination.

Abbreviations / Orientation:

Abbreviations should be avoided. An abbreviation such as RUL can mean Right Upper Lobe – or – Right Upper Lid – or – Right Upper Leg, depending on the practice.

Right, Left and Bilateral should be spelled out.

"Endo bx" can be interpreted as Endometrial biopsy – or – Endocervical biopsy.

When orienting a skin ellipse, two reference points are preferred. Providing one point of reference on specimens from regions such as the shoulders, head and thighs will not adequately define planes such as anterior and posterior.

"Knotching" a tip or edge of a skin ellipse for orientation is sub-optimal. Formalin fixation will distort the marking either rendering orientation ambiguous or causing artifacts resulting in inferior microscopic slide quality.

Skin from regions such as the breast should be submitted as "skin from breast". Skin and breast are different tissue types and have divergent processing needs.