A microdissection and molecular genotyping assay to confirm the identity of tissue floaters in paraffin-embedded tissue blocks

Jennifer L. Hunt, Patricia Swalsky, E. Sasatomi, Laura Niehouse, Anke Bakker, Sydney D. Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Context. - A recurring problem in surgical pathology practice is specimen mix-up and floater contamination. While many cases can be resolved histologically, a significant number remain unclear and may have serious clinical and medicolegal implications. Objectives. - To design a microdissection and genotyping assay to identify contaminating floater tissues in paraffin-embedded tissues that is optimized for small samples, and to use the assay to resolve a series of clinical cases with floater tissues. Materials and Methods. - Twenty-one cases of possible tissue floater contamination in paraffin-embedded tissue blocks were included. Using 4 unstained, 4-μm-thick histologic sections, multiple sites were microdissected under direct visualization either by hand or by laser capture microdissection. Nonneoplastic and neoplastic tissues were sampled. Polymerase chain reaction was performed for a panel of 10 polymorphic microsatellite markers at 1p34, 3p26, 5q21, 9p21, 10q23, and 17p13. Allele size and content were analyzed semiquantitatively by fluorescent capillary electrophoresis, and the genotypes for the tissues in the paraffin-embedded tissue blocks were compared for identity. Results. - Tissue identification was successful in all cases, despite small tissue sample size and fixation effects. Comparative analysis of neoplastic tissue floaters and the presumptive source tumor was performed when possible to control for possible allelic loss or microsatellite instability. Conclusions. - Microdissection and genotyping are effective and reliable means to objectively resolve problems of possible floater contamination. Even minute tissue samples provide sufficient DNA template for polymerase chain reaction microsatellite analysis. Because of the potential clinical implications of floaters, we recommend that all suspected floaters that would change a diagnosis from benign to malignant be subjected to genotyping assay to confirm the identity of the floater tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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