Electron Microscopy

Electron microscopy is a detailed analysis of the ultrastructure of a cell or tissue.  It allows visualization of sub-cellular / inter-cellular details that are not routinely visible on light microscopy.

Consider submitting fresh tissue for electron microscopy in any poorly differentiated neoplasm. Consult with an attending if questions arise.

EM is routinely performed on renal, muscle, nerve, and ciliary biopsies.  These specimens are not usually handled in the gross room (see respective subspecialty sections for additional details).

How to take tissue for EM:

  • Collect approximately 4 viable tissue fragments (each measuring 1 mm cubed) from the tumor or area of interest.
  • Obtain a vial of glutaraldehyde from the refrigerator, and place these fresh tissue cubes in the vial.
  • Label the vial with a printed LIS label (ask accession desk for extra).
  • Return the vial to the refrigerator.
  • Prior to filling out an EM request form, discuss with your attending the NEED for EM. If EM is required immediately, fill out the EM request form and ask the front desk to notify the lab that a specimen is waiting. If you are unsure if your specimen needs EM, consult your attending.
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