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Preservation of valuable tissue 

The Tissue-Tek AutoSection®, automated microtome was introduced to the pathology laboratories at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark in August 2015. The lab is specialized in mismatch repair panels, based upon requests from the pathologists, to aid in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer. The daily production of immuno-stained slides equals almost 500 per day. Lene Jensen, one of the histotechnicians, is eager to share her experiences with the Tissue-Tek AutoSection.

Sakura’s Tissue-Tek AutoSection at Aarhus University Hospital has cut more than 12.000 slides since four months after the installation. Staff members at the lab are already taking a clear standpoint when it comes to the evaluation of the instrument. “We have been testing the Tissue-Tek AutoSection  for some months now and we find it very interesting. The idea behind it is thoroughly thought through as well,” as Lene Jensen says. “Its definitely groundbreaking in doing recuts, she continues, “The risk of losing valuable tissue has dramatically decreased”.

Gaining valuable time  

“The greatest challenge in doing recuts is the alignment of the blocks. Most of our blocks have been cut beforehand, as we receive them from other hospitals, due to our specialized function. The alignment of the block is crucial. With other microtomes you have to work very precise and accurate and be absolutely sure that the block is 100% parallel to the blade before you start sectioning. Any misalignment will cause loss of tissue and you will often have to discard the first one or two sections. It is a very demanding and time consuming procedure, especially with small biopsies, where you don ́t have a lot of tissue available.”   Lene continues: ”This is where the Tissue-Tek AutoSection is of great value due to the AutoAlign™ function. The block holder automatically aligns the block to the blade, due to the unique alignment technology. It replaces manual orientation of the block, leading to standardized and most accurate block alignment for every lab technician: beginner or advanced. With Tissue-Tek AutoSection not only we get optimal results, we are also saving a lot of time and preventing the loss of valuable tissue”.    

Programming

“Tissue-Tek AutoSection enables us to use standardized protocols, which we use especially for lymph nodes. These are cut in 5-10 levels, with 2-4 sections at each level. Tissue-Tek AutoSection gives us the possibility to store several different programs. So far we have developed three different ones for lymph nodes and another three with variable thickness for sectioning.” 

Minimal repetitive motions

“One of the major disadvantages of our manual microtomes is the positioning of your arms and shoulders. While you align the block and section, it causes stress induced pain in the neck and shoulders. These problems are eliminated by Tissue-Tek AutoSection, because the alignment is done automatically. If the Tissue-Tek AutoSection is placed at a height-adjustable table, as we have here in the lab, you can easily change your own position as well as the height of the table and thereby retain the comfort.” Another thing Lene Jensen would like to highlight is the wireless remote control which makes it  easy for both left and right handed to use the Tissue-Tek AutoSection.

Growing number of Tissue-Tek AutoSections

After the first installation of the Tissue-Tek AutoSection back in 2015, the employees in the Pathology department have really adopted the technology. The advantages they have gained are useful in all aspects of their daily work. The second Tissue-Tek AutoSection was installed in January 2016, the third and fourth installations took place during the autumn of 2017. Two of the instruments are now placed in the immunolab, where they are used for not only for faster and more precise recuts, but also for the production of control slides. The remaining Tissue-Tek AutoSection has been placed in the routine lab, where it is also used primarily for recuts. 

Favorite features and improvements

Asked to name her favorite features and improvements, Lene Jensen mentions: “alignment & ease of use”. The alignment function has really made the difference and the Tissue-Tek AutoSection is so easy and intuitive to use. If you are sectioning difficult tissue, it is really easy to reduce the speed during sectioning. For further improvements Lene mentions the markings on the remote control. They look too similar, which might cause confusion. Lene Jensen has solved this problem by adding a red ring around the start button for better recognition.  

In 2017 The Pathology Institute at Aarhus UniversityHospital had 50,500 requisitions of histologicalexaminations, 10,500 requisitions of cytologicalinvestigations, 110.000 IHC stainings and 3000 molecular analysis. Additionally 107 autopsies of adults / children and 99 perinatal autopsies were performed. The department has the national functionin heart and kidney transplant, liver-, soft tissueand hæmato-patologi, neuro- mammae, and musclepathology and cover part of the gastro-pathology area as well.