Data-Driven development of an institutional “Gross-Only” policy for the examination of select surgical pathology specimens

Karen R. Arispe Angulo, Ayesha Farooq, Hasan Samra, Wegahta Weldemichael, Jennifer Anderson, Julie M. Jorns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine diagnostic, workflow, and economic implications of instituting a gross-only policy at our institution. Methods: Retrospective (2017) key word searches were performed to identify “gross-only” cases for which microscopic evaluation could potentially be omitted, but was performed, and those who underwent gross evaluation per surgeon request. Cases were evaluated for type(s), part(s), block volume, turnaround time, demographics, and diagnosis. Laboratory costs and reimbursement were evaluated. Results: In total, 448 potential gross-only cases with 472 specimens consisted of atherosclerotic plaques (33.5%), bariatric stomach/bowel (32.6%), hernia (15.7%), heart valves (12.7%), and other (5.9%). Four (2.6%) bariatric surgery cases had Helicobacter pylori infection; these were the only cases with “significant” histologic findings. Cost analysis revealed that converting all potential gross-only specimens to gross only would result in overall losses based on average reimbursements, most influenced by bariatric specimens (Current Procedural Terminology code 88307), comprising 65.2% of estimated loss. Conclusions: Establishing a gross-only policy should be guided by established recommendations but institutionally individualized and data driven. It was reasonable for us to establish a gross-only policy for most evaluated specimens, while excluding bariatric stomach specimens in which microscopic pathology could be missed, given the lack of H pylori screening at our institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 27 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Gross
  • Gross-only examination
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Specimen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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