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Ole Nielsen

Preanalytical parameters


Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is widely used in surgical pathology and serves as a diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive tool. Standardization of the IHC assay is vital for reproducible and reliable results.
Many factors will influence the quality and reliability of the IHC assay. Using the “Total Test System” approach (Arch Pathol Lab Med 2000;124;945-951) these factors can be group in pre-analytical factors ( i.e. tissue handling, fixative, fixation time, delay of fixation, decalcification, tissue processing, embedding and sectioning), analytical factors (i.e. epitope retrieval, blocking of endogenous activity, choice of antibody and detection system) and post-analytical factors (interpretation, cut-off levels, reporting etc.).
The pre-analytical elements of the IHC assay is often under-appreciated, but vital to the overall quality of the assay. Fixation time and type of fixative are well-documented factors that can alter performance characteristics of an assay. The presentation will review critical pre-analytical factors with focus on fixation, decalcification and sectioning.


Ole Nielsen is senior histotechnologist and project coordinator at the Department of Pathology, Odense University Hospital, Denmark. He has worked within the area of immunohistochemistry for more than 25 years. He has been actively involved in teaching immunohistochemistry since 1990 as an invited lecturer on various international and national courses and meetings. He is a co-author of more than 30 publications in the field of immunohistochemistry and since 2007 member of the NordiQC IHC Assessor Group.

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