The Institutional Tissue Registry

A well-organized tissue registry is the most valuable source of material for service and research work in pathology. Unfortunately, only few tissue registries worth their name have survived. The costs of space and personnel are considerable; there are also security issues and workplace hazards, particularly because of the large volumes of formalin that must be used. No outside funding can be expected.

The Mayo Clinic Tissue Registry keeps on file: 1) all histologic slides (an estimated 370,000/yr) and paraffin blocks (approx 160,000/yr) prepared in the pathology laboratories; 2) gross specimens from the surgical and autopsy service; as well as 3) the concentrated stock bottles (see above under "The Flow of Specimens and Documents"), which allow access to wet tissue and which are kept for at least 15 yr.

TISSUE REGISTRY FILE Elaborate card files had been used in the past and are now replaced by SNOMED-based or other computer files. We use the Co-Path Computer System for our inventory and to track storage and retrieval of slides, blocks, and wet tissues.

STORAGE METHODS Wet tissue is saved in plastic bags (Searle & Kapak). Ten percent formalin solution is the only fixative still in use for permanent storage. All stored material is identified by plastic tags with the autopsy number inside the bags or containers, and by labels on the outside. Warning labels are used to alert personnel to the hazards of formalin fumes. The plastic bags are sealed with a heat sealer (CLAMCO Heat Sealing & Packaging Co., Cleveland Detroit Corporation, Cleveland, OH) (Fig. 16-4).

MONITORING FOR TOXIC FUMES The concentration of formalin fumes in the air must be monitored intermittently, as directed by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formaldehyde standard (29CFR1910.1048) and required by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) (18). Good ventilation, safety-oriented working methods, and properly designed containers allow to reduce the exposure to toxic fumes to acceptable levels.

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