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Instrumentation for Microtomy: Flotation Bath Artifacts and Adhesives

Artifacts potentially introduced in water bath:
  • Bubbles collect on the bottom of water bath and may release and become trapped under sections.
    • Remove bubbles before using water bath.
  • Tissue cross contamination between blocks.
    • Water must be changed daily and the bath wiped clean.
    • Surface of water must be cleaned between ribbons with lint free wipes, such as Kimwipes®.
  • Epithelial cells from histotechnologist will collect in water
    • Wear gloves during microtomy.
    • Don’t lean over water bath, skin cells will fall into water bath.
    • Change water daily to prevent bacterial and fungal growth, and skim surface with Kimwipes® frequently.
  • Parched earth and tissue separation artifacts in sections
    • Flotation bath is too hot, adjust temperature.
    • Tissue left on water bath for too long or stretched too much.
    • Fatty tissue and under processed tissue may start to dissolve on warm water bath.
Adhesives: Can be applied to slides or water bath to stick sections to slides.
  • Bath adhesives added to water - all of which can contaminate water with bacteria
    • Gelatin
    • Agar
    • Glue
  • Adhesives added to slides - some will leave background staining artifact
    • Albumin with glycerin
    • Glue
    • Poly-L-lysine - good for frozen sections of fixed tissue, microwave staining, and immunoenzyme techniques
    • Chromium potassium sulfate - good for frozen sections of fixed tissue
    • Aminoalkylsilane - preferred for in situ hybridization studies
When working with ribbons on a flotation bath, a few tools are helpful in assisting the sections onto the slides. In the following pages we will address a variety of common instruments and tools used during the process of microtomy.