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Incomplete and complete skin sections

Sectioning Skin Tissue

Sectioning skin tissue may rival the challenges of embedding derms. Skin samples may become dry after processing, leading to chatter, wrinkles, and other artifacts in the sections. The hairs scratch and dull the blade quickly, leaving lines throughout the ribbon. Nails and calcifications may pop out of the block during block facing or they may not adhere well to the slides and fall off during staining. Skin may be on different planes when not embedded flat, leaving areas of samples un-sectioned and hidden from diagnosis.
The image shows that the initial sections were not completely revealed. This may have been due to poor embedding or shallow facing. The variety of sectioning protocols for derms is mind-boggling, not to mention the diversity of stains. Add an overly-cautious dermatopathologist (every laboratory has one) and the copious amount of recuts and deepers are sure to drive histotechs out of the laboratory! But for those who can't resist the challenges, the following information may make it easier to work with skins.