Every March 10th, we celebrate Histotechnology Professionals Day to help raise awareness about the laboratory field of Histotechnology. Despite never meeting patients, histotechnologists play a vital healthcare role in helping patients receive the right diagnosis and care. These laboratory professionals are helping save lives one slide at a time.
But what does a histotechnologist do? To understand the profession, you must first understand Histology.
What is Histology?
Histology is the study of the microanatomy of cells, tissues, and organs as seen through a microscope.
A histotechnologist has advanced training in how and why specimens are collected and processed for testing. This expertise qualifies the histotechnologist to manage even unexpected situations in the laboratory, such as solving technical or instrument problems, understanding the underlying health and disease causes of unusual test results, and evaluating new laboratory techniques and procedures. Histotechnicians and histotechnologists must work quickly, as they are frequently under pressure to deliver results while the patient is in surgery. They are commonly referred to as “histotechs”.
What does a histotech do?
When the pathology lab receives the patient’s tissue sample, it is first examined and dissected by a pathologists’ assistant who will submit tissue samples in a fixative (usually formalin) to the Histology Lab for processing. Some histotechs are also able to gross small specimen biopsies for processing. This process includes a dictation of their “naked” eye description of the tissue which appears in the patient’s final report.