The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Tissue Processing in Histology. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Processing Equipment

In the early 1900's, tissue processing was accomplished manually. Today, an assortment of tissue processors has become the “pièce de résistance” in the histology laboratory. In order to allow histotechnologists to focus on microtomy and staining, automated tissue processors have become a necessity. Although tissue processors have been in the histology laboratory for decades, today’s automated models pride themselves on being faster, safer, and more consistent than their predecessors. Automatic tissue processors are the work horses that save time, space, techs, and improve safety as well as consistency of the final product.
A combination of factors must be considered when deciding on the subsequent processing steps of freshly collected surgical tissue. Some of the main operational factors include:
  • Staffing
  • Turn-around time
  • Cost
  • Safety
  • Quality and consistency
  • Tissue type and size
  • Staining techniques
  • Reagent availability
  • Reagent recycling
  • Hazardous waste disposal

Once the staffing, safety, and equipment needs are met, then the quality of processed tissue becomes the main focus. Histology laboratory personnel spend an inordinate amount of time optimizing processing protocols and addressing tissue processing concerns. Since tissue processing is influenced by a wide range of variables, processing is rarely perfect and good troubleshooting skills are necessary to pinpoint the problematic step.