To whom the specimen goes: a look at how touch preparations and core needle biopsies are handled in different practices and the effect on fellowship education

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Introduction: Core needle biopsies (CNBs) have proven to be an excellent source of tissue for diagnosis and ancillary testing in the era of personalized medicine, commonly yielding sufficient material for testing via a relatively minimally invasive technique. Thus, there has been an increase in touch preparations (TPs) evaluated with rapid onsite evaluation (ROSE) of these small biopsies either in isolation or with concurrent fine needle aspiration (FNA). This in turn has forced cytopathology practices to make decisions with regard to processing and workflow of CNBs, which affects cytopathology fellowship education substantially.

Study design: The present review is based on a review of recent literature and an evaluation of the authors' personal experiences.

Results and conclusions: Deciding whether CNBs with associated TPs should be assigned to the cytology service, the subspecialty or general surgical pathology service, or a split between cytopathology and surgical pathology, is complicated. The workflow is variable at different institutions depending on multiple factors. Each of these routes has benefits and disadvantages that can affect patient care and laboratory workflow, in addition to having downstream effects on the quality and type of education our pathology trainees receive. Herein, the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches for CNB triage are discussed, with an emphasis on the impact upon cytopathology fellowship education.

Keywords: Biopsy; Core needle biopsy; Cytology; Cytopathology fellowship; Education; Touch preparation.