Specimen Transport (Histopathology)

All Sites histology specimens requiring routine diagnosis must be placed in a suitable, clearly labelled container of adequate size with a tight fitting lid, containing a sufficient  volume of 10% neutral buffered formalin to completely immerse the tissue (where possible there should be 10 times the volume of formalin to the volume of the specimen). Failure to send specimens in adequate formalin or delaying fixation will be deleterious to the specimen.  Over fixation can also can also affect the performance of tests and the interpretation of results.  Therefore it is imperative that specimens are transported to the Laboratory without delay.

Specimens sent in formalin must not be stored or transported at temperatures below 4 degrees Celcius.

In the event of formalin spillage follow local spillage procedures and if required, telephone the Histology Laboratory for advice (Ext 43188)

Ensure that ALL specimens are placed into the provided Histopathology specimen bags and request forms are placed in the pockets of the bags.

BHH/GHH/SH specimen transportation

Specimens from operating theatres, DSU and endoscopy at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and from theatres and endoscopy at Solihull Hospital arrive in sealed transport containers.

Ensure that the specimen bags are sealed securely before placing into the transport box.

The sealed transport box must be taken directly to Solihull or Good Hope Pathology Reception for transportation to BHH. BHH specimens are delivered by the portering service to Laboratory Medicine Reception at BHH. 


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Andrology Services at HEFT

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The Andrology Laboratory at the Heart of England Foundation Trust (HEFT) is a UKAS Accredited Service (ISO15189:2012), currently operating from a single site located on the 2nd Floor of the Fothergill Block at Good Hope Hospital.

The laboratory's priority is to provide a comprehensive semen analysis service for Consultants, Urologists and General Practitioners from the Birmingham and Solihull area. This includes semen analysis for fertility investigations (Diagnostic Semen Analysis) and post-operative analysis of semen following a vasectomy operation (Post Vasectomy Semen Analysis). Retrograde analysis will not be undertaken in Andrology (at the moment), but referrals for this investigation will be actioned by the laboratory staff who will forward the details to Midland Fertility where these tests will be undertaken (CPA Accredited Laboratory)..

The laboratory operates on a clinic based service and will have 2300 available appointments per annum to cover the annual workload of routine diagnostic semen analysis and post-vasectomy samples. At present the ratio of diagnostic semen analysis to post vasectomy patients is undetermined but this will be monitored and feedback given in future versions of this handbook. Routinely patients will be given an appointment to attend the Andrology Department for on-site sample production in a designated private clinic room, however in exceptional circumstances samples may be produced off site if then able to be delivered to the laboratory within an appropriate time interval.

The HEFT Andrology Laboratory has fully trained scientists who are highly proficient in performing quality diagnostic semen analysis in line with World Health Organisation (2010), The Association of Biomedical Andrologist (ABA) guidelines and the 2016 Laboratory Guidelines for post vasectomy semen analysis. The laboratory regularly performs internal quality control, participates in the UK National External Quality Assurance scheme for Andrology (UKNEQAS) and liaises with other accredited laboratories for comparison of tests not covered within the UKNEQAS scope..

The laboratory referrals can be made via:

  • Paper copy referral forms sent to Lyndon Place via post/e-mail.
  • Electronic Referral Service (ERS)


A copy of the referral form can be obtained contacting the laboratory directly on 0121 424 9717 or by GP’s accessing the word version at: http://www.heartofengland.nhs.uk/gps/

Operates Monday to Friday 08:00am to 16:00pm

Undertakes diagnostic semen analysis and post vasectomy analysis.

Appointment based with on-site room for sample production for both diagnostic semen analysis and post vasectomy semen analysis.

Off-site production can be arranged through telephoning the laboratory on 0121 424 9717 or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (if you e-mail you are accepting that the connection is not secure and potentially not confidential – laboratory staff will minimise data transmission but cannot guarantee security).

Turnaround Time: 7-10 days (electronic reporting may be more rapid). Paper copies currently sent. This is due to validation of reports by a second scientist.

Target set at 95%

Anti-sperm antibodies (ASAB) not tested at this laboratory. Agglutination is described if noted.

Please see user handbook for additional information including contact details.

Accreditation information can be found at:


Key details of the service:

Operates Monday to Friday 08:00am to 16:00pm

  • Operates Monday to Friday 08:00am to 16:00pm
  • Undertakes diagnostic semen analysis and post vasectomy analysis
  • Appointment based with on-site room for sample production
  • 7-10 day turnaround time (electronic and paper copy reporting)
  • Target set at 95% <6 week wait for diagnostic semen analysis

Andrology Notice

The use of alpha-chymotrypsin, a broad-spectrum proteolytic enzyme for diagnostic semen analysis samples has been ceased for motility assessments unless under rare circumstances.

Retrograde analysis has not been undertaken at GHH following the relaunch of the Andrology Service in 2015. This analysis type will be undertaken at GHH Andrology with a planned launch date of 1st August 2018, but will not form part of the accreditation schedule at present.


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Molecular Pathology

A molecular biology service is offered to aid in the diagnosis of lymphoproliferative disorders utilising PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and capillary gel electrophoresis for IGH (Immunoglobulin heavy chain) and TCR (T cell receptor) clonality testing. The demonstration of monoclonal lymphocyte populations supports lymphoma diagnosis. The PCR reactions are performed using Invivoscribe technologies IdentiCloneTM assays which were developed and validated by the Euroclonality/Biomed-2 group. DNA can be extracted from formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue, fresh tissue or blood.

Clonality tests available :

  • IGH rearrangement
  • TCRB gene rearrangement
  • TCRG gene rearrangement
  • Sample requirements:

  • Representative formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue blocks.
  • fresh tissue minimum 5mm3 for molecular studies (can be sent dry or in saline).
  • 5µm unstained paraffin sections
  • 5-10 ml peripheral blood in EDTA
  • The molecular biology service participates in the UK NEQAS Leucocyte immunophenotyping IGH/TCR clonality programme.

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    Copyright heftpathology 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

    HTA licence number is 12366

    Protection of Personal Information – Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection Policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and it’s employees to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

    The Trust Laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital were awarded UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation to the internationally recognised ISO 15189 standard in May 2015. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the test database http://www.heftpathology.com/frontpage/test-database.html.
    Tests not appearing on this scope are either under consideration or in the process of accreditation and so currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

    For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235

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