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March 2012: Tissue processors / other histology

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Tissue Processors in Diagnostic Pathology
Jaleh Mansouri, M.D.


Tissue processors play a critical role in determining efficient workflow and throughput in the pathology laboratory, and are an essential component in providing high-quality tissues for accurate pathologic diagnosis. Workforce needs, specimen type and volume, expected turnaround time, safety concerns, and budget constraints are all factors which should be considered in choosing the appropriate type of instrument.

Most anatomic pathology laboratories today utilize self-contained automated tissue processors with advanced computer capabilities. These machines can be programmed to process tissues overnight and often use conventional reagents including formalin fixative and xylene within an enclosed system. The integration of vacuum, heat, and microwave-assisted techniques enable these processors to carry out rapid tissue processing over the course of three to five hours, thus increasing both throughput and turnaround time. Tissue processors which offer dual processing chambers for same-day and overnight schedules can increase the speed, efficiency, and flexibility of a laboratory to process a variety of specimens in a short amount to time. In addition, software features may include interface with laboratory information systems, electronic storage of error logs and quality control data, and options for remote access to monitor both system maintenance and malfunction with appropriate interventions.

Increased needs for same-day processing (e.g. biopsies) and environmental safety concerns have encouraged the development of alternative methodologies for tissue processing. Microwave tissue processors satisfy these criteria but are not widely used for routine histologic sections in U.S. facilities. Another example is the continuous-throughput processing method (CTPM), which accepts fresh or prefixed tissue at 15-minute intervals. With this method, tissues can be processed within an hour without the need for batching specimens. In addition to short turnaround times, other major advantages of CTPM include the elimination of formalin and xylene and concomitant preservation of higher quality RNA.

It is anticipated that future technological innovations in tissue processors will continue to focus on even shorter turnaround times, more efficient throughput, increased use of recyclable nontoxic reagents, error reduction, and greater preservation of molecular integrity (e.g. RNA) in processed tissues. These strategies will ensure that technological advances in instrumentation will keep up with biomedical breakthroughs in patient prognosis and therapeutic guidance.


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Milestone Medical provides a portfolio of standardization and documentation products for the grossing workstation. From our MacroPATH D digital imaging, annotation and storage system to the CheckLITE non-contact specimen thickness measurement device and CutMATE grossing forceps, Milestone is building tools to ensure standardization of tissue thicknesses with great processing and results in mind! For more information call 866-995-5300, email info@milestonemed.com or visit us at http://www.milestonemed.com

Sakura Finetek USA is leading the revolution in Pathology with the Tissue-Tek Xpress Rapid Tissue Processor and the AutoTEC Automated Embedding System. Together these technologies allow your laboratory to achieve new levels in productivity. Our full line of Tissue-Tek histology instrumentation and consumables include Tissue Processors, Embedding Systems, Microtomy and Cryotomy instruments, and Stainers and Coverslippers. Sakura is committed to changing the future of Pathology. Please visit our website at www.sakuraus.com for more details on our product portfolio, or contact Theresa Ford, Director of Marketing, at tford@sakuraus.com or 800 725 8723 X 7873.


Past / future feature pages:

November 2011: Consumable Lab Products / Clinical Lab Analyzers
December 2011: Grossing workstations / lab furniture
January 2012: Billing / consulting / management
February 2012: Microscopes / slide imaging

April 2012: Lab Accreditation/ Education
May 2012: Computer software and systems
June 2012: Diagnostic testing / reagents
July 2012: Imaging / digital / photography
August 2012: Books & Journals
September 2012: Antibodies
October 2012: Laboratories
November 2012: Consumable Lab Products / Clinical Lab Analyzers
December 2012: Grossing workstations / lab furniture
January 2013: Billing / consulting / management
February 2013: Microscopes / slide imaging
March 2013: Tissue processors / other histology

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