GI biopsy improved sections

Numerous people write and asked me for the details on Bill Barlow's procedure.   Below is our modified procedure.  His used 0.1% solution of the
surfactant aerosol OT (A/OT; Fisher scientific, Pittsburgh PA)  He adds 5ml of the 10% aerosol solution to 495 ml of deionized water.   We just tried
the surfactant that we had available already in our lab, which was tween.   Note that you should never use this on poorly processed tissue.

Barb Davies
Memorial Hospital
Colorado Springs

This is our procedure:

Principle:    Biopsy specimens are especially sensitive to microtomy problems.  Gastro-intestinal biopsies have a tendency to  produce microchatter
which is impossible for the histotech to grossly see on the waterbath.  The use of a surfactant to soak these blocks prior to microtomy benefits
quality of the section.

Reagents:         0.2% Tween(surfactant) in  distilled water in solution
              0.2%  Tween frozen in tray


1.   Face into biopsy block
2.   Lay block, tissue side up, and cover exposed tissue surface with Tween solution.  Let sit soaking for 10 minutes.
3.   Place on ice tray which is composed of  0.2% tween in water.
4.   Cut first level consistently of three serial sections at 4 microns.
5.   Place block back on Tween waterbath to soak.
6.   Cut second level, also consisting of three serial sections.

Notes:    Larger tissues, especially skin may not be helped by the surfactant soak.


Barlow, Bill;  Techniques For Better Paraffin Sections,  The Journal Of Histotechnology, Vol. 16, No. 4, December 1993

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