When it comes to slide preparation, today’s pathologists require speed, accuracy, and quality. For many years, organizations have accepted the labor-intensive, manual process of transferring harvested tissues onto slides as a necessarily slow part of a larger preclinical study workflow. That is starting to change.
The process of preparing tissue sections on slides encompasses several steps, each requiring a high degree of technical skill.
Current Slide Production Process
The tissues are first harvested at necropsy and trimmed into smaller, more specific pieces to demonstrate structures within the organs. Once trimmed, these tissues proceed to wax impregnation, a process that removes water from within the cells and replaces it with wax. This prepares the tissues to be embedded into a mold. Once in a mold, tissues can be sectioned via microtome at approximately 5 µm, (i.e., one cell in thickness). Sections are mounted on glass slides and stained prior to a pathologist’s analysis.
Automation-Enhanced Slide Production Process
Automation has arrived to ease the burden of these labor-intensive processes. Eager to pass on the advantages of workflow efficiencies to their clients, Charles River is proud to implement some of these new technologies. By adopting Sakura’s Tissue-Tek® AutoTec® Automated Embedding System, we’ve been able to effectively remove an entire step in the slide preparation process.
Using the Sakura technology, tissues are trimmed and oriented into special Paraform cassettes. Gels and mesh pads hold tissues static during the processing stage, which allows the cassettes to be automatically embedded using the Tissue-Tek® AutoTec® Automated Embedder. This auto embedding technique is used effectively throughout hospitals and high-throughput veterinary diagnostic labs.
Over a six-month pilot project, pathology histotechnicians at our Edinburgh site used the Sakura technology to optimize the slide production process for rodents and establish the system within the Charles River working practices. Their objective was to eventually adapt the rapid technology to larger format tissues while maintaining the high-quality tissue sections our pathologists and clients expect and controlling consumable spending. At the end of the trial, the team developed a highly reproducible standard process for all species used in routine toxicology studies. Technicians were quick to learn this new technique, and immediately saw improvements in their workflow.
Enhancing Speed and Efficiency for Our Clients
At the conclusion of the project, the team estimated the implementation of the technology would reduce slide preparation time and speed up your study's pathology workflow. Moreover, the final embedded molds produced by the system were found to be extremely precise, increasing the speed and ease of microtome sectioning, creating high quality slides, and minimizing the need to repeat steps.
The Tissue-Tek® AutoTec® Automated Embedder has arrived at sites across Charles River, with pathologists, technicians, and clients enjoying the advantages of faster slide preparation.