“”Special” stains are used to differentiate specific components seen in the H&E-stained section. As an example, most pigments can be seen in the H&E-stained section but they all stain basically the same. To determine the makeup of the pigment, special stains are used to differentiate , for instance, copper from iron pigment. Bacteria can be seen within the H&E, but to differentiate what type of bacteria is it (gram positive vs. gram-negative), a “special” gram stain is used (gram-positive bacteria stains blue and gram-negative bacteria stains red).

Special Stains – In order to understand what a “special” stain is, you must first have an understanding on what a “routine” stain is. The Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) stain is the universal “routine” stain which has been used for over 100 years throughout the world. Simply put, the hematoxylin stains the nuclei blue and the eosin stains the cytoplasm pink. The H&E stain enables the pathologist to visualize the general morphology of the tissue , allowing for a diagnosis and prognosis of most histopathological conditions. With an H&E-stained slide, the pathologist can see most diseases, inflammation (both acute and chronic), mitosis, bacterial infections, necrosis, fibrosis, pigments and accumulations of proteins. In veterinary diagnostic histopathology, about 98% of the cases received can be diagnosed using the H&E-stained tissue section.

Below is a list of some commonly requested “special” stains that we perform at Horus Scientific: 

Bacterial Stains:

FITE’S METHOD FOR ACID FAST ORGANISMS 
ZIEHL-NEELSEN METHOD FOR ACID FAST BACTERIA
BROWN AND BRENN METHOD FOR GRAM+ AND GRAM- BACTERIA 
WARTHIN-STARRY METHOD FOR SPIROCHETES AND DONOVAN BODIES 
CRESYL VIOLET ACETATE FOR HELICOBACTORPYLORI   

Fungal Stains:

GROCOTT’S METHOD FOR FUNGI (GMS) 
McMANUS PAS METHOD FOR FUNGI   

Inclusion Body Stains:   

GIEMSA STAIN FOR RICKETTSIA 
LENDRUM’S METHOD FOR INCLUSION BODIES 

Blood Stains & Stains for Hematologic Elements:   

WRIGHT STAIN METHOD 
GIEMSA THIN FILM STAIN 
BRILLIANT CRESYL BLUE FOR COUNTING RETICULOCYTES 
RHODINILE BLUE STAIN 
MALLORY’S METHOD FOR HEMOFUCHSIN 
HALL’S METHOD FOR BILIRUBIN 
PRUSSIAN BLUE METHOD FOR HEMOSIDERIN 

Bone & Calcium Stains:   

ALIZARIN RED S FOR CALCIUM DEPOSITS 
KOSSA’S METHOD FOR CALCIUM 
PIZZOLATO’S METHOD FOR CALCIUM OXALATE 

Bone Marrow Stains:   

MAY-GRUNWALD/GEIMSA COMBINED STAIN FOR BONE MARROW   

Carbohydrate & Mucosubstance Stains:   

BENHOLD’S METHOD FOR AMYLOID 
CRYSTAL VIOLET STAIN FOR AMYLOID 
McMANUS PAS METHOD FOR GLYCOGEN 
MAYER’S MUCICARMINE METHOD 
ALCIAN BLUE METHOD (pH 2.5) 
ALCIAN BLUE METHOD (pH 1.0) 
PAS-ALCIAN BLUE METHOD FOR MUCOSUBSTANCES 
SAF-O FOR ARTICULAR CARTILAGE   

DIASTASE DIGESTION 
HYALURONIDASE DIGESTION.

Connective Tissue Stains:   

PICRO-SIRIUS RED FOR CONNECTIVE TISSUE 
MASSON’S TRICHROME FOR CONNECTIVE TISSUE 
VERHOFF VAN GIESON’S FOR ELASTIC TISSUE 
FRASER-LENDRUM METHOD FOR FIBRIN 
MALLORY’S PHOSPHOTUNGSTIC ACID HEMATOXYLIN METHOD (PTAH) 
MOVAT’S PENTACHROME METHOD 
GOLDNER’S TRICHROME METHOD 
GOMORI’S METHOD FOR RETICULUM 
JONES’ METHOD FOR KIDNEY 

Cytoplasmic Granule Stains:   

PHOSPHOTUNGSTIC ACID HEMATOXYLIN (PTAH) 
ALDEHYDE-FUCHSIN METHOD 
TOLUIDINE BLUE FOR MAST CELLS 
FONTANA – MASSON SILVER METHOD FOR ARGENTAFFIN CELLS 

Fat & Lipid Stains:   

SUDAN BLACK B 
OIL RED O 

Mineral & Pigment Stains:   

GOMORI’S METHOD FOR IRON 
RHODANINE METHOD FOR COPPER 
MALLORY’S METHOD FOR IRON 
HALL’S METHOD FOR BILIRUBIN 
PRUSSIAN BLUE METHOD FOR HEMOSIDERIN   

Neurological Tissue Stains:   

CRESYL VIOLET FOR NISSL BODIES 
BIELSCHOWSKY’S METHOD FOR NERVE CELLS AND FIBERS 

If you don’t see the “special” stain you’re looking for on this list, contact us to discuss your needs with our team of experienced histologists.

Contact Us Today

Ask a question or schedule a call below. We typically respond within 48 hours.

Scope of Work Form

Click here to send us your scope of work.

(877) 944-4786

7 Lenora Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01607, USA

© 2020 Horus Scientific | Website by SaaSquash Technologies | Terms & Conditions