Vinnie Della Speranza's article about the survival of Mycobacterium
tuberculosis in fixatives is at
Clearly he recovered what recent literature there was on the subject.
This is a project that clearly needs doing - get some unfixed
obviously tuberculous tissue, cut it into appropriately thin slices,
and see how long after placement in neutral buffered formalin (do
record the temperature!) Mycobacterium tuberculosis can still be
cultured from it.
Such a project could be undertaken at no very great expense in a
pathology service in the developing world, and the results would be of
value to all of us.
An anecdote on the subject: a colleague of mine, born around 1930, was
doing the surgical pathology fellowship at Memorial/Sloan Kettering in
New York City around 1968, when he had a mass appear in his neck. He
feared the worst, and the offending lymph node was duly excised and of
course popped into formalin. As he came up from the anesthesia he
realized what had probably happened, went bounding off to the
pathology lab, recovered the node from the bottle of formalin, and got
it cultured - and grew out Myco tuberculosis. Drug susceptibility
tests were done, he got appropriate treatment, and he's still in
practice in 2007.
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