Cytopathology Services


All request forms and consumables for the Non-Gynaecological Cytology service are available from the Cytology Department. In addition, request forms may also be acquired electronically via ICE requesting. All sections of the paper copy request form should be completed  fully and legibly in ball point pen. To order or for any enquiries contact  Cytology Reception on: 0121 424 3192


Specimens should be collected in an appropriate transport vessel which is intact undamaged and with the lid firmly fitted to prevent spillage or leakage and must be clearly labelled with:

  • Full Name of Patient
  • PID, NHS Number or Date of Birth (whichever is given on form)
  • Date and time collected which is essential for CSF and BAL specimens as time factors affect the test result.

Any unlabelled samples received, which can easily be repeated, will be rejected. In cases of unlabelled or mislabelled samples from an invasive procedure, the responsible clinician will be requested to identify and label the sample in the laboratory before it can be processed.

Request Forms

Each sample must be accompanied by the appropriate request form fully completed; the following details are essential

  • Full Name
  • PID or NHS Number or Date of Birth
  • Location or destination for report
  • Consultant or GP
  • Specimen type
  • Test required
  • Date and time collected which is essential for CSF and BAL specimens as time factors affect the test result.

In the event of multiple specimens from one site, each sample pot must be labelled so they are readily distinguished from one another. In the case of samples from different sites, a separate request form for each specimen site is required.

For urgent specimens, including Cerebrospinal Fluid and Bronchoalveolar Lavage, please notify the laboratory prior to despatch to ensure staff availability for timely preparation and reporting.

  • 0121 424 3192
  • 0121 424 1191

Laboratory opening times:

  • Monday - Friday : 8.30-5.00

Note: An urgent on-call service is available via on-call Pathologist via switchboard.


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Completion of request forms (Histopathology)

Please ensure that request forms are fully, correctly and legibly labelled.  We require  full patient demographics, hospital registration number/NHS number, nature of specimen, clinical details, contact details of person in charge of the case, consultant/GP, Ward/location/GP surgery, date and time the specimen was taken. Hazardous specimens must be indicated on the request form and on the specimen pot.

The specimen pot labels require the completion of the full demographic details. 

URGENT specimens.  If a report is required urgently the request form must be labelled URGENT and ensure the specimen is sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.  If a report is required for an MDT it is helpful if the date of the MDT is stated on the form.

It is important to indicate on the request form the level of consent obtained from the patient. 

Where a request lacks essential information, efforts will be made to clarify such problems with the referring clinician. 

Where there are inadequate patient or specimen identification details the clinician will be informed and requested to attend the department, identify the case and provide the necessary details.  If the clinician cannot be contacted the request form and specimen will be returned to the sender with a "discrepancy" proforma to be completed by the clinician. The completed and signed proforma must then be returned with the corrected form/specimen pot to the department. 

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Histology Services Overview


Histopathology Services

Histopathology provides a fully comprehensive diagnostic histology service to University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals) and its GP community. The Department is able to provide a wide range of expertise to include chest, gastrointestinal, breast, skin, renal, urological, ENT and lymph node pathology.

All histology specimens requiring routine diagnosis must be placed in an adequate volume of 10% neutral buffered formalin (where possible there should be 10 times the volume of formalin to the volume of the specimen). Large resection specimens must be completely immersed in formalin. Whilst tissue sampling is a clinical decision tissues of less than 1mm cubed may not survive tissue processing.

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

Specimens must be transported to the laboratory as soon as possible as some histology tests are adversley affected by over exposure to formalin.

Where an urgent report is required, the urgent nature of the request should be indicated on the request form along with a contact name and telephone/bleep number.

Urgent small biopsies may be processed more rapidly provided the necessary arrangements are made directly with a senior member of staff.

Frozen sections must, where possible, be arranged 24 hours in advance by contacting the department on Ext 43188  (BHH) with details of the name of the patient, the surgeon, the time of operation, the nature of the specimen, the number of the theatre and its telephone extension. The specimen must be brought directly to the histopathology service laboratory and handed over to a senior member of the medical or biomedical staff.  The request form must include a contact telephone or bleep number.  THE SPECIMEN MUST NOT BE SENT IN FORMALIN.  If the specimen is likely to be infective (eg TB HIV) the clinician must discuss this with the consultant pathologist upon booking the frozen section.  There is a duty of care upon the person booking the frozen section to disclose all relevant information. If the surgical procedure is delayed, please inform the laboratory.

Frozen sections for Solihull and Good Hope hospital can be performed provided that arrangements are made with the Department of Histopathology 24 hours in advance  (EXT 43188).

An extensive immunohistochemistry section is available, providing prognostic and diagnostic information to pathologists and clinicians.

A molecular biology service is offered to aid in the diagnosis of lymphoproliferative disorders utilising PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) for IgH and TCR gene reaarangments translocation plus FISH (Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridisation) based assays including Bcl2 break apart, Bcl6 break apart, Cyclin D1 break apart, Malt1 break apart, Myc break apart and IgH break apart.

A HER2 testing service.  We perform over 2000 HER2 Immunohistochemistry and 800 FISH tests per year using FDA approved assays.  All testing is performed in accordance with National Guidelines.  We are actively involved in monitoring and auditing all aspects of the HER2 service to best meet the need of our users.  For further information please contact Dr Jane Starcynski 0121 424 2705. The turnaround time for HER2 immunohistochemistry is 14 days.  Request forms are available from 0120 424 2705. Ref HER2 Service Details

Electron microscopy is available as a routine service for renal biopsies.  These specimens are processed at a referral laboratory. However, requests outside this sphere should be discussed with a consultant a member of staff.

A Mohs diagnostic service is currently provided for the dermatology and ophthalmology departments and performed primarily at Solhull Hospital Dermatology Department but also may be performed at the Heartlands Laboratory.

The Department also houses a modern autopsy suit at the Heartlands site and quiet viewing room facilities for families and friends of deceased patients at both Heartlands, Solihull and Good Hope sites.  Please note that covid related restrictions to viewings are currently in place and these are only arranged in exceptional circumstances currently.  Please call the Mortuary at the appropriate site for advice.

Outside routine working hours a Consultant Pathologist can be contacted in case of emergency via the switchboard 0121 424 2000.

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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
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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