Microtomy IS an art

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From:Scott Taft <ss336@yahoo.com>
To:HistoNet Server <HistoNet@Pathology.swmed.edu>
Date:Tue, 13 Apr 1999 07:28:36 -0700 (PDT)
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Hi all,

There are some components in Histology that are more scientific and
some more artistic. I won't go into the details but let's see if you
aggree with the following.

Special staining is a science until you go into a different lab with a
different set of Pathologists who like the light green counterstain
darker along with a dozen other combinations. There have been times
when I have had to alter the scientific methods to get what we are
looking for especially when the fixation of the tissue isn't up to par
or maybe interferring organisms that screen out what you are staining
for unless you alter the stain. (Just to name a couple)

But in Microtomy, I believe this is an art. That's why the manual
microtome is more preferred than the fully automatic. Techs want to
"feel" the block as they cut into it. Sometimes slower, sometimes

You can put 5 different microtomes down side by side and an artist will
get them all cutting properly, (as long as they work) but a scientist
who depends on that standard method of operation will have a rough time
getting those 5 to work.

You can put 1 microtome down and have 5 different people operate it and
again, they will all have different ways of "getting things to work,"
that the scientific method doesn't.

How many have seen interns come in, or the housekeeping staff and say,
"boy that looks easy" as you start cutting a section? Have them sit
down and give them a set of instructions to operate your microtome and
see how "easy" it is?  That's art in my book.

Scott Taft/Ventana Medical Systems/Tucson, AZ
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