Formalin-fixed lung tissue and paraffin blocks containing peripheral lung tissue obtained from subjects with an occupational asbestos exposure are both regarded to be suitable to determine asbestos load. Because sample preparation of paraffin blocks requires a more intense treatment than formalin-fixed tissue, we tested whether asbestos analysis of formalin-fixed lung tissue and paraffin blocks obtained from the same patients deliver comparable results.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We determined numbers of asbestos bodies (AB) and amphibole asbestos fibers (AF) in formalin-fixed lung tissue and corresponding paraffin blocks from 36 patients. For AB counts, samples were digested in sodium hypochlorite. For AF analysis, tissue was freeze-dried and then ashed. Results were reported as numbers of AB and AF per gram dry lung tissue.
Both AB counts as well as AF counts were lower in paraffin blocks than formalin-fixed lung tissue. Compared to formalin-fixed tissue, the limit of detection was higher for paraffin blocks, rendering more results from paraffin blocks not interpretable than from formalin-fixed tissue (8 samples versus 1 for AB and 15 samples versus 4 for AF).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Asbestos analysis of paraffin blocks may lead to underestimation of asbestos exposure. This should be considered when assessing occupational asbestos exposure through lung dust analysis in medico-legal evaluation.