Sunday, February 24, 2013

Histology Rotation

One of our requirements for the first semester is to complete a two-day rotation in the histology lab. The rotation entails waking up before the sun rises and observing the histotechs embed and cut specimens.  The histotechs have to start work super early in order for everything to be ready by the time the Pathologists arrive.  When my alarm went off at 3:45am I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could be fully functional at that hour.  Luckily we do the rotations with another classmate, which made being up so early way less painful (thanks Corey!).

Histology means the study of tissues. The histotechnologists’ job begins after the PAs take sections of a specimen and submit those sections in cassettes. The cassettes are delivered to the histology lab and each one is scanned into the computer, in order to keep a log of all the cassettes that are received.  The histotech then takes the tissue and embeds it in paraffin; they must have superhuman fingers because the wax is hot! 

Once the paraffin solidifies, they cut thin sections of the tissue on a microtome. They place the ribbon of sections in a water bath and then pick up the sections on a microscope slide.  They create as many slides as needed based on the different stains that are required for the specimen.  After the tissue is on the slides, the slides are stained and coverslipped (at our lab they have an automatic staining and coverslip machine).  Once that is finished, the histotechs gather the report and the slides and give them to the pathologists to review under the microscope.

Paraffin block being cut on microtome
After watching the whole process, Corey and I were able to try embedding and cutting various sample specimens. When we came back for our second day of rotations the histotechs had stained our slides and we were able to view them under the microscope.
Some of the slides that I made

As we are not far in our microanatomy class, we had fun trying to describe what we saw under the microscope as if we were the residents during a conference. “On high power we see a lot of fibrous tissue and enlarged nuclei.” It’s funny how the slides just look like pretty pink and blue blobs to me right now, but with time I’ll be able to recognize certain diseases based on these microscopic examinations. 

My favorite thing that I’ve seen under the microscope so far is an eccrine duct (it looks like a 5 year olds art work!):

1 comment:

  1. This was really interesting and helpful. Thanks for including photos :)