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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course The Histology of Dermatological Specimens - Part 2. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Folds/ tears in tissue

Moth holes artifact

Skin Sectioning Artifacts

Histotechnologists are charged with troubleshooting most technical problems that arise in a histology laboratory, especially artifacts. An artifact is defined as a substance or structure that is not normally present, but has been produced by some external force; something that is not inherent to the tissue itself. Artifacts can be introduced at each step of the entire process from fixation (such as formalin pigment) to coverslipping (like bubbles or debris). Fixation, processing, and embedding rarely require troubleshooting for artifacts, however, even the most skilled tech will encounter artifacts during microtomy. A wide variety of artifacts can be introduced during the microtomy process: wrinkles, folds, tears, chatter, thick and thin sections, holes, tissue separation, and floaters to name a few. To make things more challenging, each artifact may have two or more contributing factors, and therefore, multiple solutions to the problem. The variables seem endless! Fortunately, most techs enjoy the challenge and are eager to flex their expertise, while sharing solutions. The following page addresses the most common artifacts encountered during the skin sectioning process, with possible sources and solutions to the problems.