During most oncological surgeries, the surgeon will excise (remove) a margin of normal tissue so as to ensure that no part of the cancer is left behind. During the surgery, a piece of this margin is tested to determine if more tissue is required to be excised or if the margin is clear of malignancy.
Intra-operative frozen section is pathological laboratory test done during a surgery to rapidly evaluate the specimen microscopically. The specimen once tested will either be benign or malignant which is relayed to the surgeon during the operation so as to alter the course of the surgery for better results. This procedure is most helpful in cases where the surgeon needs to confirm that the margin of the resection is clear of any malignancy.
Once the surgeon has removed the specimen, it is given to the pathologist. The pathologist will use the cryostat machine to freeze the sample. Its then cut with a microtome into thin cross sections and stained for viewing under the microscope. This entire procedure usually takes only a few minutes.