Re: Microtomy IS an art

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From:"Andrea Kelly" <>
To:"Scott Taft" <>, "HistoNet Server" <>
Date:Tue, 13 Apr 1999 18:15:14 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Well said. I whole heartedly agree. In Sheehan's book (first edition) the
chapter on microtomy starts out "microtomy is an art". That's why some never
enjoy it or become proficient at it.
-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Taft <>
To: HistoNet Server <>
Date: Tuesday, April 13, 1999 12:04 PM
Subject: Microtomy IS an art

>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
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Get your free address at

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