Re: Microwave processors

I was interested in a microwave processor because of the short processing time that may be
obtained using such a processor.  We purchased a Hacker processor which has a neat looking
touchscreen display and built in infrared heat sensor that was supposed to ensure that the
tissue was never damaged during processing. The sales representative came out to our lab and
programmed the machine.  It worked great, although it only processed 30 cassettes at a time. 
Before she left that day, she decided to increase the temperature of the programs.  Although
she denies doing so, she was overheard discussing this mistake with the young women she
brought to train.  When we used it the next time all the tissue was FRIED!  We would have been
better off cooking it in a kitchen microwave.  After getting many complaints and requests for
letters from our clients (hospitals and dermatologists), stating that we made a lab mistake
and that any lawsuits could be addressed to us, we were very reluctant about using the
processor again.
      The sales rep. came out numerous times and we tested the microwave processor using
discarded tissue and changing the program times in the machine.  Since we were so unhappy
with the product Hacker sent out an expert from the East coast to come out to California for a
day and help us work it out.  He reprogrammed the machine and added an extra 15 minutes to
each step in the processing cycle, saying that the sales rep. made a mistake by not adding a
"ramp up" time.  He said we needed the "time at temperature" plus the
"ramp up" time for each of the two steps in the cycle.

      To make a long story short, we processed the tissue that day with no problems but when
we tried again (yesterday) we had similar problems.  This time the tissue is only slightly
overcooked.  This expert said that we could keep using the "JFC" solution, which is
the first solution in the process, until fat droplets formed on the top of the solution.  We
hadn't used the solution since he was at our lab the last weekend, and no fat droplets were
present.  When we got him on the phone again he said that he hadn't used this "JFC"
solution that is produced domestically and that because it is not the original Italian formula
we had problems with it.  He said to try again with fresh solution!  That does us no good when
we have patient tissue that has already been processed and looks like it was processed with a
blow torch!   

      My advice to anyone is to stay away from the microwaves.  We were told that this
processor was the most advanced and it still ruined these patients precious tissue specimens. 
The pathologists could not make a diagnosis from this tissue!

      To top it off Hacker seems very relaxed about the situation and refuses to take back a
product that we are all too reluctant to use.  We are stuck with this processor that isn't good
for more than making popcorn, if it could even do that.

      Now that we have talked with other people that have used microwave processors, besides
those on a list provided by the vendor, we are finding this isn't the first time people have had
such problems.

-Mark Tarango
MOHS-TEK Laboratory

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