[Histonet] Re: Bone saw

rsrichmond <@t> aol.com rsrichmond <@t> aol.com
Wed Apr 11 11:02:06 CDT 2007

Most surgical pathologists cut bone with an electric Stryker oscillating saw, since their autopsy service usually has one. These really aren't suitable for surgical pathology, since it's difficult to hold the specimen down, particularly if you don't have a bench vise.
I've always relied on hand-held saws. The old Satterlee amputation saw, of Civil War (1861-65) vintage, is the usual saw available. (I've twice seen these in Civil War re-enactor hospitals, complete with chrome plating, right like they come from whatever Lipshaw is called this week.)
Many small surgical pathology services have no saw of any kind. When I work one of these services, I go to a hardware store and spend five dollars on a hacksaw, and leave it behind when I go.
An elegant variation on the hacksaw is the "Sawbones", which combines a sturdy clamp with two parallel long hacksaw blades that cut a slab of a femoral head a few mm thick. It's rather overpriced at about $500, prohibitively expensive for something the pathologist is actually going to have his hands on. 
The bone pathologist at Johns Hopkins recommends a tabletop scroll saw. These cost about $200. They're supposed to be quite safe, but they have too large a footprint for the usual cramped surgical pathology lab.
(Meanwhile, down the hall, the radiology department just bought a 64-slice CT scanner, their toy of the year. The red-haired stepchild....)
Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN
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