[Histonet] method of using agar for an embedding tool

Anthony Reilly Tony_Reilly <@t> health.qld.gov.au
Thu Dec 15 20:23:48 CST 2005

Hi Jim

We have employed this technique on occasions when the clinician has
sent endoscopic biopsies with 10 or more pieces, which makes it very 
difficult for the histologist to embed them all on edge before the wax
solidifies.  We get our micro dept to provide us with neutral agar in 5ml aliquots because the continual heating and cooling of the agar affects its
viability and therefore the smaller aliquots means less wastage.

1. Melt the agar in microwave or waterbath.
2.Pippette onto a glass slide.  The agar will spread but the viscosity
prevents it from becoming too thin.
3. As agar cools orientate your tissue as desired.
4.Allow to cool on the bench or in refrigerator.  be careful if using the refrigerator that the specimen is not forgotten.
5.When solid lift from slide using an old microtome bade or razor blade.
6.Wrap in paper( whatever you use) place into cassette, place casette in formalin.  the formalin will help to harden the agar even further.
7. Process overnight as the agar will not process on a short cycle.

Note it is important that the tissue is well fixed prior to placing into the
agar or else you may get some heat artifact.  as I said we only use this for those specimens where normal embedding is made difficult by 
the number of pieces of tissue in the biopsy.  I would not recommend
it as a routine method.


Tony Reilly
Chief Scientist
Anatomical Pathology
QHPS-Prince Charles Hospital
Rode rd Chermside Q 4032
Ph: 07 3350 8543
Fax: 07 33508546
tony_reilly <@t> health.qld.gov.au

>>> "Vickroy, Jim" <Vickroy.Jim <@t> mhsil.com> 12/16/05 6:50 am >>>

Has anyone used agar at the embedding stations to help orient small
specimens?  I am told by my new pathology assistant that this would
prevent the embedders from having to reorient them at the embedding
center?  If you have could someone send me a procedure?  Please
disregard the spelling errors in the last email.  Obviously spell check
should have been used.


James R. Vickroy

Supervisor - MMC Surgical Pathology



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