The focus of this course will be on the technical process of producing human tissue blocks embedded in paraffin wax. Other embedding techniques using various media such as gelatin, ester wax, polyethylene glycol, and epoxy resin are also used in some histological techniques. However, in this course we will be discussing the method of embedding human tissue samples in molten, or melted, paraffin wax. This is the most commonly utilized method for routine tissue embedding and is the method most utilized in nearly all hospital histopathology laboratories for processing human tissue samples for diagnostic interpretation.
In the order of events (chronology) of the total histology process, paraffin embedding takes place following tissue processing and prior to and in preparation for microtomy. For proficiency in paraffin embedding, the histologist needs:
- An understanding of basic anatomy for use in tissue type orientation
- Knowledge of basic tissue sampling methods used in gross dissection
- To develop manual dexterity and spatial reasoning in order to correctly orient the specimen in the tissue block for microtomy
This course will introduce and review some of the essential background information needed for correct embedding technique. Also discussed in this course will be guidelines for orientation of common histology specimens. Mastery of this information facilitates practice and application of these concepts during execution, to increase the histologist's technical proficiency at paraffin embedding in the histology laboratory.