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PeerJ. 2014 Mar 13;2:e307. doi: 10.7717/peerj.307. eCollection 2014.

Evaluation of the effect of formalin fixation on skin specimens in dogs and cats.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL , USA.
Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL , USA ; Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL , USA.


Skin and subcutaneous tissues are the origin of most common neoplasms affecting dogs, accounting for approximately one third of all tumors encountered in the species. Surgical excision is frequently the best chance for a cure; determining factors influencing the success of excision are vital for surgical management of cases. This work examined the shrinkage of skin of various lengths from three sites in formalin for both dogs and cats. Tissues were measured on the animal (initial measurement), at the time of excision (post-removal), and after formalin fixation (post-fixation). While shrinkage after tissue removal was found in samples from the thorax, abdomen, and rear leg in dogs and from the rear leg in cats, no significant shrinkage due to formalin fixation was detected in any sample except for the thoracic samples from the dog. Therefore, when determining where to make incisions to effect a surgical cure, initial measurements should take into account tissue shrinkage effects.


Biopsy; Fixation; Formalin; Shrinkage; Skin

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