Answers to frequently asked questions -

What is a frozen section?

A frozen section is a way for your pathologist to very quickly examine your tissue sample under the microscope. Other names for frozen section include quick section and intraoperative consultation.

Why are frozen sections performed?

Frozen sections are usually performed to provide your surgeon with information that will help with decision making during the surgical procedure. A common reason for a frozen section is the assessment of normal tissue adjacent to a tumour for microscopic amounts of cancer that cannot be seen with the naked eye (this normal appearing tissue is called a margin).


In some situations a frozen section may be used to provide a rapid diagnosis or to confirm that the diseased tissue has been removed before sending it for additional tests.

How is a frozen section different from other tissues sent to pathology?

Unlike most tissue sent to pathology, tissue examined as part of a frozen section is not placed in a preservative called formalin and embedded in wax before to being cut and placed on a slide. Instead the tissue is rapidly frozen, cut, and immediately stained so that it can be examined under the microscope within minutes of being received (which is why the procedure is called a frozen section). The rapid processing and analysis of your tissue allows your pathologist to provide the surgeon with information in 'real-time'.


However, because this tissue is not preserved in formalin, many advanced tests cannot be performed at the time of a frozen section. For this reason, most diagnoses provided during a frozen section are considered preliminary and may be revised when the rest of your tissue sample is examined.

A frozen section description will be included in your pathology report if your surgeon requested that a pathologist examine a sample of your tissue at the time of your surgery. 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Copyright 2017

For more information about this site, contact us at

Disclaimer: The articles on MyPathologyReport are intended for general informational purposes only and they do not address individual circumstances. The articles on this site are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MyPathologyReport site. The articles on are intended for use within Canada by residents of Canada only.

Droits d'auteur 2017
Pour plus d'informations sur ce site, contactez-nous à
Clause de non-responsabilité: Les articles sur MyPathologyReport ne sont destinés qu’à des fins d'information et ne tiennent pas compte des circonstances individuelles. Les articles sur ce site ne remplacent pas les avis médicaux professionnels, diagnostics ou traitements et ne doivent pas être pris en compte pour la prise de décisions concernant votre santé. Ne négligez jamais les conseils d'un professionnel de la santé à cause de quelque chose que vous avez lu sur le site de MyPathologyReport. Les articles sur sont destinés à être utilisés au Canada, par les résidents du Canada uniquement.