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How to Send a Skin Biopsy for Immunofluorescence Microscopy

A completed Dermatopathology Consult Requisition must accompany all requests.

Questions can be directed to: University of Iowa Diagnostic Laboratories (UIDL) at 319-384-7212 or toll free at 866-844-2522.

1. Supplies

Please complete our online Dermatopathology Supply Order Form.

2. Specimen Preparation and Packing

Three different preparation methods are listed below. The method to be used is determined by the suspected disease process. Please select the appropriate method for optimal results.

All containers must be identified with patient name and tissue source.


  • Place a punch biopsy (prefer 4mm) directly into Michel's transport media.
  • Place the container into a plastic bag.
  • Ship the tissue as soon as possible.
  • Double bag the specimen container with the requisition outside the plastic bag.
  • Placed the double-bagged specimen into a box (primary container) with adequate absorbent material in case of leakage.
  • Securely seal the primary container.
  • Place the primary container in a secondary shipping container, which should also contain enough absorbent material to prevent any leakage from escaping outside the container.
  • These specimens can be sent by either our courier service or express airmail.
  • Ship at ambient temperature.

Specimens Requiring Special Handling:
Bullous lesions, particular pemphigus, bullous pemphigoid, and epidermolysis bullous acquisita are often fragile. Be sure to biopsy the edge of the lesion to avoid artifactual separation of the epidermis from the dermis in shipment.

We recommend that biopsies from patients with a suspected cutaneous HEMATOPOIETIC CELL INFILTRATES you wish to immunophenotype be placed in tissue culture medium (RPMI-1640).

  • RPMI-1640 tissue culture media is typically red/pink in color and should be stored at 4°C for longest usability.
  • If it becomes cloudy or discolored (yellow/orange), discard the media and request new.
  • We recommend that RPMI-1640 be replaced every six months.

RPMI 1640 medium - TISSUE

  • Place a 4mm punch biopsy directly into RPMI-1640 tissue culture media.
  • Place the container into a plastic bag.
  • Ship the tissue as soon as possible.

3. Specimen Transportation

The UIDL accepts specimens seven days a week, except holidays.

Shipping address:
University of Iowa Diagnostic Laboratories (UIDL)
Department of Pathology
200 Hawkins Drive 5231 RCP
Iowa City, IA 52242-1087