RE: [Histonet] Cutting Fat... Thanks!

From:"Due, Brice"

Thank You Mickie! I posted earlier my dry ice tricks for cutting fatty human
muscles. Wouldn't you know I was just now struggling with a bx laced with veins
of fat... I sat down for a moment and saw your post. A big ob-gyn swab soaked in
LN2 turned out to be more convenient than several dry ice pellets. A little more
difficult to control the temperature, but between my thumb on the bx and the LN2
swab everywhere else, I was able to get the sections I needed. Static seems
worse than with dry ice, but I don't mind picking sections up off the roll plate
instead of the stage. I'll have to play with this more in the future! 

Thanks Again!
Brigham & Women's Neuropathology
Boston, MA

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 1:15 PM
Subject: [Histonet] Cutting Fat

This is a response to an old question about cutting good sections of fat.  I am
a traveling Mohs histotech and also train Mohs histotechs. With Mohs frozen
sections, getting sections of fat is paramount. If there is a hole in the fat,
then the Mohs surgeon cannot evaluate that area for residual tumor. Mohs techs
work hard to get good sections of skin with no holes in the fat.  In my
experience, high quality sections of fat can be achieved using liquid nitrogen
to cool the fat sufficiently to allow it to cut.  One can use a large swab
dipped in liquid nitrogen or a device for freezing warts off commonly used in
dermatology offices is very handy.  I have found that the temperature of the
cryostat is not as important as the temperature of the fat being cut. Sometimes
freezing several times is needed before the fat 'gels'. At that point, it
doesn't take much more freezing to get the fat to cut very nicely.  At times it
is also helpful to cut the sections thicker, perhaps up to 10
  microns.  Once the fat 'gels' the micron setting can be turned down some, if
thickness is a problem.  Use of sharp disposible blades is a must. When I cut
fatty blocks of skin from the scalp, back, chest, etc, I routinely get excellent
sections of fat.

Hope this helps. 

Mickie Johnosn, B.A., HT/HTL(ASCP)
Mohs Histology Temporary Services
Training, Consultation & Vacation 
Relief for Mohs and Clinical Histology.

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