Comparing the efficacy of coconut oil and xylene as a clearing agent in the histopathology laboratory

J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2014 Sep;18(Suppl 1):S49-53. doi: 10.4103/0973-029X.141348.


Background: The commonly used clearing agent, xylene is supposed to be highly toxic and carcinogenic. As previous research studies have shown the effectiveness of different vegetable oils as clearants, this study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of coconut oil.

Materials and methods: Two equal halves of 60 soft tissue specimens were processed simultaneously in xylene and coconut oil as clearing agents. The Xylene-treated specimens (XY-S) and Coconut oil-treated specimens (CO-S) were checked for gross and histological features and comparison was done between the two groups.

Results: Significant shrinkage was noted in XY-S compared to that in CO-S. No difference was found in either of the sections when checked for cellular details and staining quality. Morphometrically, there was significant reduction in the mean cell area in XY-S compared to that in CO-S.

Conclusion: Coconut oil may be substituted for the highly hazardous xylene as a clearing agent without compromising the quality of histological details.

Keywords: Clearing agent; coconut oil; histopathology laboratory; vegetable oils.