Re: The future of the Histology lab?

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From:Geoff McAuliffe <mcauliff@UMDNJ.EDU>
Date:Wed, 07 Jul 1999 11:54:24 -0400
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Tim Morken wrote:

> Histonetters,
> A recent article in the June 1999 CAP Today (U.S. only), "Virtual Tissue,"
> and the web site give one possible version of the histology
> lab 5 to 20 years from now (depending on whether you are in a research or
> clinical lab). The article has sample images, the web site only has an
> explaination of the technology about to hit the histology lab.
> In short, a piece of pre-stained, resin-embedded tissue is cut into
> thousands of sections by an automated microtome. Some sections are kept for
> specialized studies but the vast majority are discarded. Instead of using
> the sections, a digital image is made of the block face after each section
> and a 3D digital image of the entire tissue is produced.  Using your desktop
> computer you can then "section" the 'virtual tissue' in the most useful
> plane for diagnosis.
> Stains are applied before embedding using fluorescent dyes for the common
> tissue elements. These "stains" can then be interpreted by computer
> enhancement to produce the "stains" a pathologist is used to seeing.
> Seems that with DVD technology a microscopical 3D digital image of the
> entire tissue sample from a case can be stored.
> If you wonder how it looks, an "H&E" by this method is as good or better
> than a real H&E. It certainly has better detail.
> I think the histology lab is about to be 'all shook up.' Hope you all are
> ready!
> Tim Morken, B.A., EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)
> Infectious Disease Pathology
> Centers for Disease Control
> MS-G32
> 1600 Clifton Rd.
> Atlanta, GA 30333
> email:
> Phone: (404) 639-3964
> FAX:  (404)639-3043

Dear Histonetters:

    So where will the money to buy all of this wonderful stuff come from (once
the bugs are out of this wonderful stuff and it is on the market)? Are granting
agencies going to give out buckest of bucks for 3-D reconstruction which is
already possible, albeit more slowly? To what end? I think laser scanning
confocal will already do many of the tasks mentioned above. I can't speak for
clinical labs but from the postings I read on this list, it seems money is
pretty tight there, too. How would this improve diagnosis?
    Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful to be able to do these things
quickly and easily, but I doubt that it will be widespread. Maybe at NIH or a
big drug house. These methods were used to create the Virtual Man and Woman at
the NIH but I teach Gross Anatomy and I don't know a single US medical school
that is or plans to do this on site.
    I remember being told in the '70's that paraffin was going to be obsolete in
a few years, we would all be doing resin sections.

Geoff McAuliffe, Ph.D.
Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854
voice: (732)-235-4583; fax: -4029

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