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Author: Mikael Häggström [notes 1]

When taking representative sections, it may be sufficient to ink the sample area, if the specimen remains orientable and able to be further inked later if needed.


Generally, use inking to specify relevant surgical margins where cancer radicality is important, highlighting such edges in later microscopy. Excisions made by laser do not need inking on the excision surfaces, since the coagulated surface can be easily identified in the microscope.[1] Similarly, microscopically visible anatomic margins such as serosal surfaces are generally discernible by microscopy without inking, but inking thereof is an optional help in for example serosal surfaces next to a colon tumor.


  • Black is generally the best ink for both gross identification and microscopy, but should not be used on lung specimens.
  • Blue and green are great for microscopy, but are often messier to apply and can be visually difficult to distinguish from black.
  • Orange and yellow are generally somewhat less preferable. Generally avoid juxtaposing blue, yellow and green, since contamination between blue and yellow inks becomes green.
  • Red is generally most difficult to see under the microscope, and should only be used as a last resort.


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.

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  1. Monica Dahlgren, Janne Malina, Anna Måsbäck, Otto Ljungberg. Stora utskärningen. KVAST (Swedish Society of Pathology). Retrieved on 2019-09-26.