Frozen section
General principles

Topic Completed: 1 October 2011

Revised: 26 August 2019

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Table of Contents
General principles
Cite this page: Wallace J. General principles. website. Accessed December 6th, 2019.
General principles
  • A frozen section (cryosection) is a pathological laboratory technique used for rapid microscopic analysis / diagnosis of a specimen / disease
  • Usually used with oncologic surgery
  • Rapid diagnosis can guide intra-operative patient management

    Why perform a frozen section:
  • Provide rapid gross or microscopic diagnosis to identify an unknown pathologic process, identify extent of disease / evaluate margins, identify metastases or simply identify a tissue
  • Process tissue to provide appropriate and accurate diagnosis, prognosis and to adhere to research and special study protocols
  • Confirm that pathological tissue is present for diagnosis on permanent sections

    Why NOT to perform a frozen section:
  • Frozen section diagnosis has no immediate implications for decision making
  • Tissue is needed for permanent processing (is unique or small or requires extensive study for diagnosis)
  • Frozen section is known to produce severe artifacts that hinder proper interpretation
  • Tissue is heavily ossified / calcified
  • Risk of serious infection (HIV, TB, hepatitis B or C)
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