Marking ink

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Abdominoperineal resection after marking ink was applied. (WC/Hagemani of Wikia)

Marking ink, also ink, is used during grossing/at cut-up to mark the surgical margin and orient specimens unambiguously.

Rules of thumb

  • Ink before you think. Ink before cutting. If one applies ink after cutting into the tumour one is more likely to get (stray) ink on tumour that is not the margin.
  • Green and blue are the preferred marking ink colours as they are easier to see at the time of embedding.[1]
  • It is good to avoid black ink in skin lesions, as it can difficult to discern black marking ink from a pigmented melanoma. This can be remember by black is bad and green is good!
  • Red ink frequently doesn't stick well to the tissue and is often hard to see on microscopy.

Common conventions

  • Blue is superior and green is inferior. Why? The sky is blue and the grass is green.
  • Green is right and left is red. Why? Planes and ships have green right and red left.
    • The above can be remembered by sailors that drink port wine with no red port left; red is port.

See also


  1. Lester, Susan Carole (2010). Manual of Surgical Pathology (3rd ed.). Saunders. pp. 312. ISBN 978-0-323-06516-0.