A comparison of histopathological turnaround times for mandibulectomies, glossectomies and incisional biopsies of the tongue

  • Márcia M Dias
    Department of Histopathology, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, United Kingdom
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  • Andrew W Barrett
    Corresponding author at: Dr A W Barrett, Department of Histopathology, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, RH19 3DZ
    Department of Histopathology, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, United Kingdom
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Published:November 07, 2022DOI:


      Diagnostic histopathology plays a key role in the management of oral cancer and timely reports are essential. The aim of this study was to retrospectively compare the time interval between receipt of the specimen and issue of the histopathology report (the “turnaround time”, TT) of two types of oral cancer resections (mandibulectomies and glossectomies) and incisional biopsies from the tongue (n = 100 of each). The information documented included the number of days from receipt of specimen until the sample was ready for reporting, and the number of subsequent days until the report was authorised by the pathologist. The number of days mandibulectomies required decalcification, the number of blocks processed per sample and pathological TNM stage were also recorded. Results showed that mandibulectomies had statistically significantly longer TT than glossectomies. Incisional biopsies had the shortest TT with 87% reported in seven days and 95% in ten. There were also statistically significantly longer TT for pT3/pT4 than for pT1/pT2 glossectomies, and between the number of blocks processed for the three main groups. Decalcification and the interval whilst the slides awaited the pathologists’ attention were identified as “bottlenecks”. Dentate mandibulectomies had the longest TT of all; extraction of teeth at operation and detachment of the lower border of the mandible at macroscopic sampling are thus potential means by which the decalcification delay might be reduced. Expectations of the multidisciplinary team managing the patient should be realistic when scheduling post-operative discussion.


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