Museum of Histotechnology?

Ian Montgomery writes:

>>A Museum, and me thinking I was at the cutting edge (no pun intended). 
Freezing microtome with CO2 cylinder, my pride and joy, a beautiful 
instrument and still in regular use. Museum indeed, hmm.<<

This "wet knife" (as it was often called) microtomy was displaced by the 
cryostat in surgical pathology in the early 1960's - the last one I saw in 
operation was in 1978. Tissue was rapidly fixed, often by boiling it, and 
sections (about 12 mcm thick) were lifted off the knife blade, stained free 
hand in blue dye in ice cream dishes, put on a slide and viewed in a water 
mount, using an antique brass tube microscope. Everything was called cancer. 
A good time was had by all.

Having had a rather conservative pathology residency where I was taught not 
to diagnose cancer on frozen section unless the patient actually had cancer, 
I studiously avoided learning the old wet knife technique.

The best of these microtomes were made by Sartorius, and many pathologists 
called them Sartorius microtomes. They have a number of research uses, since 
they can reliably cut extremely thick sections for such techniques as 
microradiography. The last ones I saw were happily acquired by research 
laboratories. I wonder if any are still in use in diagnostic surgical 

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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