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Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

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Biopsy Sample Packaging Guidelines

By Dr. Kelli Almes & Dr. Jen Lehr

Biopsy samples are one of the most commonly submitted diagnostic samples at KSVDL. They are also a sample that can easily leak on their way to the laboratory. Properly packaging samples that contain a large amount of liquid, like biopsies, is essential. Parcel carriers are not required to deliver wet, leaking packages and these may be disposed of by the carrier without notification to KSVDL or the sender.

Ensuring your sample’s safe arrival is a priority to KSVDL.

If you are using our biopsy mailers you have all of the needed materials for proper packaging. These materials are provided free of charge for clients using our histopathology service.

Each mailer is designed to return one biopsy and contains the following:

  • A 4-ounce jar prefilled with formalin. These jars are specifically designed with screw top lids designed for formalin transportation.
  • Absorbent material that is able to contain the included amount of formalin in the event of a leak.
  • A Ziploc biohazard bag provides a second layer of packaging to contain the formalin jar and absorbent material. Enclosing your submission form in the outer pocket of this bag will also protect it in case of a leak.
  • A cardboard box provides the rigid outer layer.
  • As a final barrier, we provide you with a UPS Laboratory-Pak, a heavy duty plastic envelope, which seals your packaged sample inside.
  • Each Laboratory-Pak comes with a UPS label attached for return of your sample which you can track in transit back to KSVDL.

Occasionally there are biopsy samples, which are too large to fit into the provided jar. These large samples should not be placed into a container that is too small.

The proper amount of formalin is needed to ensure proper fixation. In these cases you can submit the tissue fresh or delay submission until the sample has fixed at your clinic. To send the biopsy as a fresh tissue sample, chill the sample in the refrigerator. Double bag the sample in a tightly sealed Ziploc or Whirl-pak bag, and then ship the sample with cold packs for overnight delivery. These samples will be placed in formalin upon arrival at KSVDL. Submitting the fresh tissue will delay results on an average of 1-2 days.

A second option is to fix the biopsy at your clinic in a large container of formalin and then ship the sample to KSVDL. This can be a good way to save on shipping costs. Remember to provide 10 parts of formalin to 1 part of tissue during fixation. After the tissue is fixed remove it from the formalin and place it in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel soaked in formalin. The sample should be double or tripled bagged to prevent leaks, and as described above you will need absorbent material with an additional layer such as paper towels in a Ziploc. All samples should then be shipped in a rigid outer container.

Following these guidelines for packaging should ensure your sample arrives in good condition.

For more information or to order biopsy mailers please contact Client Care at 866-512-5650 or clientcare@vet.ksu.edu.

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