[Histonet] Block Alignment Tool

Gagnon, Eric gagnone <@t> KGH.KARI.NET
Fri Jun 1 08:30:05 CDT 2012

Interesting thread about block alignment.  Bernice makes a good point about Newcomer's level, and the possible effects of benchtop or floor not being level; perhaps the stage-mounted tools are preferable.  We have a stage-mounted tool, which brings me to another point.

Before this type of tool was invented, we used a block of wax, no tissue, for alignment.  This required some eye-balling and often subsequent adjustment of the head.  This was a skill learned by experience and practice, as most skills are.  The results were usually good.

Now that we have Leica RM2255 motorized microtomes, I find their method of aligning the block to be excellent, with red cylinders showing aligned or not on both axes.

We receive many cases from referring hospitals for subsequent IHC in our laboratory.  Many of these blocks contain very thin biopsies which have already been cut.  At this point, when microtomy for IHC begins, the alignment almost inevitably has to be adjusted.  This takes us back to the eye-balling mentioned earlier, and very careful initial turns of the wheel to gauge proper alignment and not waste tissue.

But in terms of daily microtomy of just-embedded blocks, either the Leica microtome method or the block alignment tool will go a long way to ensuring that all microtomes are as closely aligned as possible.  They all rely on proper training and experience to ensure this.

Eric Gagnon MLT
Histology Laboratory
Kingston General Hospital,
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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