Core biopsies are standard of care for diagnosis and surveillance of prostate cancer. Fragmentation makes numeric assessment of cancer challenging and increases risk of inaccurate staging with direct implications on management.


To determine factors responsible for fragmentation at our institution.


Prostate core biopsies performed at 2 hospital sites during 1 week were prospectively identified. Biopsies were received in multipart formalin jars, either mounted on a nonadherent dressing pad (Telfa, Medtronic Inc) or freely suspended, and grossed by experienced pathologists’ assistants. Fragmentation was defined as the difference between number of cores sent by the clinician and number of cores counted by the pathologist on microscopy.


Forty-six cases (15 benign; 31 malignant) with 535 specimen jars were identified of which 309 of 535 (57.8%) had >1 biopsy core per jar; 230 of 535 (43%) were received mounted on Telfa and 185 of 535 (34.6%) had histologic evidence of adenocarcinoma. Overall fragmentation rate was 157 of 535 (29.3%). Lowest fragmentation rate was seen when 1 core was submitted per jar regardless of mounting method (31 of 226; 14% for single versus 126 of 309; 41% for >1 per jar; P < .001). For 1 Telfa-mounted core, rate of fragmentation was 5 of 18 (27.8%) versus 26 of 203 (12.8%) when unmounted (P = .24). Significant increase in fragmentation of Telfa-mounted cores was seen when there were 3 per jar (32 of 70; 46% mounted fragmented versus 9 of 47; 19% unmounted fragmented specimens; P = .01).


Submission of >1 biopsy core per jar and use of Telfa for mounting are associated with increased fragmentation. We recommend limiting submission to 1 core per jar and avoid mounting on Telfa pads.

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Competing Interests

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Author notes

The project was presented as a poster at the College of American Pathologists Annual meeting 2023, Chicago, Illinois, on October 9, 2023.