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

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Introduction to Microtomy, continued:

As one of the most essential skills a histotechnologist can acquire, microtomy bridges the process between specimen collection and microscopic analysis. The ultimate goal of microtomy in a histology laboratory is to produce slides that are free of artifacts and errors. Sample sections that are free of artifacts are critical to diagnosis and the microtomy skills required cannot simply be gained from a textbook. Years of hands-on experience, trial and error, and troubleshooting make a microtomist proficient in handling a variety of tissues and problems that may arise during the process. The tissue slides must also be free of sample cross contamination or labeling errors. Since paraffin sectioning is mid-way in the process of diagnosing tissue samples, it is dependent on the previous processing steps. Even a highly skilled histotechnologist may be unable to resolve tissue sectioning problems if the following steps are not performed optimally:
  1. Tissue fixation
  2. Tissue processing
  3. Tissue embedding
Regardless of how flawless the tissue sections, if the steps following microtomy are not performed optimally, diagnosis may not be attained. The steps that may jeopardize even the best tissue sections are:
  1. Poor deparaffinization of tissue sections
  2. Poor stain quality of slides
  3. Improper coverslipping
This course will address the most common variables and pitfalls that a histotechnologist may encounter during microtomy of paraffin-embedded samples.