RE: [Histonet] Cost Containment - Blades question

From:"Stapf, Ross"

My answers are below.

"Have any of you used steel blades for paraffin sectioning instead of
disposable blades?"
I have never used the steel blades.  Sharpening them is an art and takes
time and if you don't have someone on staff who knows how to sharpen
blades properly then no one will be getting good sections.

"Is this practical - meaning how many blocks is one blade able to
section before being sharpened, and what is the minimum cost involved in
the sharpening process?"
I don't believe it is practical.  How many blocks you can cut depends on
the type of tissue.  One calcified area or staple will immediately make
that area of the blade useless.  As for cost.  Blade sharpeners are not
cheap, plus there is the time involved for the person doing the

"Is there any way to sharpen disposable blades?"
Not that I know of.

What is the average amount of blocks a technician is able to cut/blade -
both using disposable and steel?
Once again it depends on the tissue and the expected level of quality in
the lab.  As far as I am concerned slides should always be as close to
perfect as possible.  I have seen some "factory labs" who will dole out
how many blades each tech gets for the day.  Their slides look terrible
and any Pathologist with a choice eventually look elsewhere for quality
work.  In my opinion quality needs to be the first priority.  These are
patients whose lives depend on an accurate diagnosis.  They deserve no
less than the best section possible.

"What is your disposable blade of choice?"

Accu Edge.  Although I had some sample Shandon Blades recently that were
good and I intend to give them some consideration as they are much
cheaper than Accu Edge.

Bottom Line.  Unless you have a bunch of good old steel blades, a good
sharpener, and a group of techs who are able to sharpen them properly
then I would stick with disposables.  It is much better to look at
cheaper disposable blades to save money than to try to dictate how many
blades each person can use.  Any switch to a cheaper blade should
involve the techs input.  Many times blades are cheaper for a reason and
they don't cut as well.  

Good luck.  I know situations like this can be tough.

Ross M Stapf
Histopathology Manager
Baylor University Medical Center
3500 Gaston Ave.
Dallas, TX 75246
214-820-4110 fax

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