Consultation Overview


The University of Iowa Department of Pathology provides a full range of Anatomic Pathology consultation services. We provide advanced technologies and professional expertise. Our faculty are available for consultation for all referred materials. Please refer to Clinical Consultants for details.

The preliminary diagnosis is called if final results are not available within 24 hours. Final reports are faxed and final copies are mailed. Written reports indicate patient information, accession number, slide/blocks examined, stains performed and interpretation.

If this is a routine consultation, then the slides will be mailed back with the patient report. If the patient is going to be seen at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, then we will retain the slides/blocks until after the patient’s visit (usually 30 days). After that time, all slides and blocks will be returned.

If wet tissue is sent, original slides and tissue blocks are retained by University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

How to send a Consultation:
  1. Complete the Anatomic Pathology Consult Requisition. Questions about completing the requisition can be directed to: University of Iowa Diagnostic Laboratories (UIDL) at 319-384-7212 or toll free at 866-844-2522.


  2. Specimen Preparation:

Slides/Blocks
  1. A completed requisition must accompany all requests. It should contain: the patient name, identification number, date of biopsy, tissue source, biopsy site, clinical history and differential diagnosis if known.
  2. Include other pertinent history and findings, such as radiographic findings, cancer history or treatment history.
  3. All slides and tissue blocks must be identified.

Wet Tissue
  1. A completed requisition must accompany all requests. It should contain: the patient name, identification number, date of biopsy, tissue source, biopsy site, clinical history and differential diagnosis if known.
  2. Include other pertinent history and findings, such as radiographic findings, cancer history or treatment history.
  3. All containers must be labeled with patient name, identification number, and tissue source.
  4. Place tissue in leak-proof container with at least 100 mL fixative.
  5. Wrap the container with Parafilm to prevent leakage.

Frozen Tissue
Lymph Node, Spleen, Liver or Tumors:
  1. A completed requisition must accompany all requests. It should contain: the patient name, identification number, date of biopsy, tissue source, biopsy site, clinical history and differential diagnosis if known.
  2. Include other pertinent history and findings, such as radiographic findings, cancer history or treatment history
  3. Nodes should be cut perpendicular to the long axis of the node. Freezing must be rapid to prevent ice crystal formation.
  4. Do not try to freeze a specimen larger than approximately 1 x 1 x 0.3 cm.
  5. If tumor heterogeneity is a concern, please freeze multiple small specimens from several sites for study rather than a single large specimen.
  6. Large blocks will not freeze rapidly and ice crystal formation will occur.
  7. The tissue must be kept frozen at all times. The best results from immunomicroscopic studies are obtained when tissues are frozen rapidly and kept frozen at -60 to -80° C until sectioned. Any thawing which takes place and is followed by refreezing leads to ice crystal formation with loss of morphologic detail and cell membrane (hence antigenic) integrity.
  8. The following steps should be followed to obtain optimal results
  1. Place a small mound of Optimal Cutting Temperature (OCT) compound on the cryostat chuck.
  2. Avoid bubbles in the OCT, which will make sectioning difficult. Freeze a base of OCT, then place another small mound of OCT on top of it.
  3. Embed tissue specimen in the OCT making certain it is completely covered and thus protected from freeze-drying.
  4. Add another drop of OCT if needed. Freeze by immersing the chuck and specimen mounted upon it in liquid nitrogen (LN2) or precooled isopentane.
  5. Boiling of LN2 stops when specimen is solidly frozen.
  6. If a cryostat heat sink is used, spray it with Cyto-Cool to speed the freezing process. NEVER freeze tissue without covering it with OCT.
  7. Pop the specimen off the chuck with a sharp edge and wrap it in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped specimen in a plastic bag before shipping.
  8. Always identify the specimen by writing with a waterproof marker on the foil and bag.
  9. If you intend to hold the specimen while the permanent sections are examined, keep it in a freezer at –30°C or preferably lower. Do not use a refrigerator freeer.
  10. Label the specimen with the patient name, identification number, tissue source, and date.
3. Specimen Packaging
Slides/Blocks
  1. Standard mailing containers (canisters, padded envelopes, slide boxes) are designed to transport specimens such as prepared slides and paraffin blocks.
  2. These specimens do not require any special temperatures or handling.
  3. To prevent slides from breaking, please use the proper transport container, (such as a padded envelope) or add sufficient packing material.
  4. These specimens can be sent by U.S. Mail or any transportation service

Wet Tissue
  1. Double bag the specimen container with the requisition on the outside of the plastic bag.
  2. Affix "formaldehyde precaution" label on bag.
  3. Placed the double-bagged specimen into a box (primary container) with adequate absorbent material in case of leakage.
  4. Securely seal the primary container.
  5. Place the primary container in a secondary shipping container, which should also contain enough absorbent material to prevent any leakage from escaping outside the container.
  6. These specimens can be sent by our Courier services within our service area or by FedEx Mail.

Frozen Tissue:
  1. Placed the double-bagged specimen into a Styrofoam container (primary container) with adequate dry ice.
  2. Use at least 6-8 pounds dry ice. Use more in the summer months. DO NOT use wet ice, or coolants (i.e., Cool Packs).
  3. Make certain the requisition is placed in the box, but on the outside of the double bag.
  4. Securely seal the container and label with "Frozen Tissue- Do Not Thaw".
  5. These specimens can be sent by our Courier services within our service area or by overnight express airmail.
4. Specimen Transportation
UI Diagnostic Laboratories can usually provide for specimen transport either through our own courier services or through other transportation providers such as overnight carriers. If you need assistance or information in transporting specimens to our laboratories, please contact UIDL Client Services and a representative will provide assistance in determining the most appropriate shipping arrangement.

319-384-7212 (local)
1-866-844-2522 (toll free)

Shipping address:
University of Iowa Healthcare
UI Diagnostic Laboratories
200 Hawkins Drive, Room 5231 RCP
Iowa City, IA 52242-1087