Re: Breast specimens

From:Tracey Smith

Connie, you have to convince the prosector that thin is in,more so when cutting fat.  You could have them cut in the tissue and fix overnight(as you are), but then have them come back and retrim the tissue again.  They may need more cassettes but I've always advocated that one well preserved,readable slide beats 4 "rim-shots".  If they complain that it is too hard to trim tissue thin remind them that you are attempting to cut it 1000's of times thinner using essentially that same blades and tools.  Hope this helps>>> "Connie P."  04/22/02 06:16PM >>>
Could we please revisit my current nemesis, which is surely going to drive me into leaving Histology forever and seeking a lucrative highly paying successful career? 
I need help/advice/suggestions regarding handling breast specimens so that they are well preserved, easy to cut on the microtome, instead of partially raw tissue which requires the cut and scoop method to obtain a slide. 
I plead with the residents (1st yrs.) to trim them so that they fit in the cassette without touching the sides, and cut them to 2mm in thickness. Of course, most times they are 4mm or more. They are then placed into cassettes and held overnight in 10%NBF. They get put on the processor the next evening. I tried alcoholic formalin, saw no difference. Large breast lymph nodes are just as bad if not worse, raw in the centers. The small ones are usually fixed O.K. Does anyone have a tried and true method for handling large breast specimens which works for them with few exceptions? If so, please share it, I will be forever in your debt. 
Connie L. Probert
Detroit, Michigan

Tracy Smith
Anatomic Pathology Scientist
Children's Hospital and Clinics

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