PTAH (phosphotungstic acid hematoxylin)

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This old geezer hasn't seen one of those since he was a resident at Cornell
Medical Center/New York Hospital thirty years ago!

Mallory's phosphotungstic acid hematoxylin (PTAH) wasn't so much a stain as it
was a ritual. The purpose of the ritual was to give the pathologist a day to
think up a diagnosis for an unusual tumor, a function now performed by immune

As I recall, hematoxylin powder was dissolved in aqueous PTA, and the solution
then allowed to ripen spontaneously (i.e. with atmospheric oxygen) over
several months. (Actually, a good batch of PTAH was older than its user.) I
think the Moon had to be in the Seventh House, and Jupiter aligned with Mars,
but I'm on the road and don't have access to my Book of Shadows, though any
good grimoire (such as Lillie or Luna) should provide the details.

Zenker/Helly fixation was required, and postmordanting usually didn't work.
But it was great for pathologic glia and for cross striations in skeletal

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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