In toto

In pathology, the term “in toto” means that an entire tissue specimen is submitted for microscopic examination without being divided into smaller parts. This approach ensures that the pathologist can evaluate the entire specimen comprehensively.

Types of tissues submitted in toto

Certain types of tissues or specimens are typically submitted in toto for a thorough examination. These include:

  • Small biopsy specimens: Tiny tissue samples, such as those obtained from needle biopsies, are often submitted in toto to ensure that all available tissue is examined.
  • Small polyps: Entire small polyps, such as those removed during a colonoscopy, are submitted in toto to assess the entire lesion.
  • Small tissue structures: Small structures, like lymph nodes, or small organs, like the appendix, are often submitted in toto to allow a complete evaluation.
  • Margins of surgical specimens: When evaluating margins of a larger resected specimen, the entire margin tissue might be submitted in toto to ensure thorough examination for residual disease.
  • Excisional biopsies: In some cases, where the entire lesion is removed for diagnosis, the whole specimen is submitted to ensure no areas are missed.

Importance of submitting tissues in toto

  • Comprehensive analysis: Submitting tissues in toto ensures that the pathologist can evaluate the entire specimen, reducing the risk of missing any critical areas of pathology.
  • Accurate diagnosis: A thorough examination of the entire specimen can provide a more accurate diagnosis, particularly in cases where the pathology might be focal or distributed unevenly.
  • Evaluation of margins: For surgical specimens, assessing the entire margin is crucial in determining whether the tumor has been completely excised.

Learn more pathology

Atlas of Pathology
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