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Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test

Last updated Oct. 19, 2018

The Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test is a ‘frozen section’ that is carried out in the midst of an operation.


What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Cryosection Tissue Test
  • Frozen Section Procedure Tissue Test
  • Intra-Operative FS Tissue Test

What is Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test? (Background Information)

  • The Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test is a ‘frozen section’ that is carried out in the midst of an operation. A frozen section is a thin slice of tissue that has been frozen. It is acquired using a machine known as a cryostat, which resembles a sophisticated slicer, called a microtome, inside a freezer
  • Traditionally, a frozen section is obtained via a surgery or biopsy. It is then chemically processed and interpreted by the pathologist the very next day. However, the Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test is performed when results are needed much more urgently
  • The test is most commonly performed during surgery involving the removal of a tumor. A frozen section is quickly made of the suspected tissue while the individual is under anesthesia. It is then transferred to a pathologist for microscopic examination
  • The pathologist quickly analyzes the specimen and immediately communicates his findings to the operating surgeon via telephone or intercom. The surgeon then takes action based on the pathologist’s report
  • The Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test increases the effectiveness of surgery by bringing in the expert advice of a pathologist to examine a slice of tissue obtained during an operation
  • The Intra-Operative FS Tissue Test must yield results much more rapidly than a traditional frozen section test. Consequently, there is less time to sample the specimen and prepare it for analysis by the pathologist
  • The pathologist may be able to only determine whether a tumor is benign or malignant using the test. The pathologist may not be able to offer a more detailed analysis

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test?

The clinical indications for performing the Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test include undergoing a surgery to remove a tumor, whereby the surgeon’s decision may be enriched by the advice of a pathologist.

How is the Specimen Collected for Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test:

Sample required: Tissue 

Process of obtaining a tissue sample during surgery:

  • A surgeon cuts away tissue that will be further investigated by a pathologist
  • If the sample is large, the surgeon may dissect it further prior to processing
  • A cryostat is used to make a frozen section of the specimen
  • The specimen is transferred to a pathologist for microscopic analysis

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test Result?

Following is the significance of the Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test:

  • If a pathologist determines that a frozen section contains malignant (cancerous) cells, the surgeon may need to remove more tissue to ensure that the entire tumor has been removed
  • If a pathologist determines that a frozen section contains benign (harmless) cells, the surgeon knows that he has reached the edge of the tumor

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The Intra-Operative Frozen Section Tissue Test is used sparingly because of the limitations imposed by having to process a tissue sample in a very short amount of time

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 16, 2016
Last updated: Oct. 19, 2018