[Histonet] Cooling paraffin blocks with ice VS. Freezing Spray

Connolly, Brett M brett_connolly <@t> merck.com
Mon Oct 1 19:43:55 CDT 2012

I agree with Rene and Tom. You have learned the skills and need to be in a place where you are happy and in an environment that fosters development, cooperation, and innovation.

What you have described is the opposite situation. Hopefully you can find a better home in your area, not a "my way or the highway" environment.

Those that resist change, or an open exchange of ideas, eventually fall by the wayside... so good luck with your search.


Brett M. Connolly, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist, Imaging Dept.
Merck & Co., Inc.
PO Box 4, WP-44K
West Point, PA 19486
brett_connolly <@t> merck.com
T- 215-652-2501
F- 215-993-6803

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Jenny Vega
Sent: Monday, October 01, 2012 5:02 PM
To: Rene J Buesa; histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: Re: [Histonet] Cooling paraffin blocks with ice VS. Freezing Spray

I haven't mentioned that the hospital where I work has been facing
financial problems and my job has been threatened a couple of times. My
work hours have been reduced from 40 hours a week to 32 since Feb and seems
that they have no intentions of increasing them again plus I am underpaid
with no benefits which contributes to the problem. This is already a good
reason to change jobs.

I don't want to personally attack people who haven't gotten a degree in a
specialized histotech school because I think that everybody has unique
abilities to offer.

In my case I consider myself a theoretical person because is easy for me to
grasp concepts that is why I had success graduating from histotech school
and passing my certifications but I have struggled a bit in the technical
aspect which is very important but I have learned a lot of different
techniques that have benefit me and I never stop learning. I only have 1
year and 6 months of experience in my current job cutting, staining and
doing frozen sections and I have been getting better.

There are other people on the other hand who have never been in histotech
school or don't have a strong theoretical foundation but they have good
technical skills like my supervisor for example. My supervisor seems that
she has never sat down to study a book about histotechnology and is not
that important to her.That is why I have asked here certain questions
before that to some people are silly . I sometimes can't believe that she
doesn't know those things and I get confused as well and wonder if I am the
one who is wrong.

Like the time when I asked if 10% formalin equals 4 to 3.7 formaldehyde
because my supervisor said that they were different things and she was
sending back all the 10% formalin bottles to the provider because she has
used formaldehyde all the time. The manufacturer contacted her and educated
her on the subject but she still thinks that they are not the same thing.
She recently said that formaldehyde is more concentrated and toxic than 10%
formalin. I don't correct her because she is going to get offended.

And the other question I asked about xylene and protective gloves. She
discouraged the use of gloves because they latex would "mark" the back of
the slides while cover slipping. I suggested the idea of buying nitrile
gloves but her response was "There is no money for that" so I had to buy my
own nitrile gloves.

Someone here once sent me a MSDS sheet with all the possible side effects
that xylene can cause and I read that it can contribute to thyroid disease
and my supervisor currently has issues with her thyroid so who knows if
this has contributed to that problem for not using gloves for many years.

My supervisor is a very stubborn person and she likes to be right all the
time so I don't say anything every time she says something incorrect so
dealing with her is not that easy.

Since I only have been for a year I really want to get more experience
before changing jobs. If I don't see no improvement in the economic
situation that the hospital is facing then I will have to leave.

Thanks for your advice

On Sun, Sep 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM, Rene J Buesa <rjbuesa <@t> yahoo.com> wrote:

> Jenny:
> There is a saying that "life is too short to drink cheap wine". In the
> same way life is too short to be frustrated daily working at a place where
> work is like a daily uphill battle.
> For what you describe you know your trade. Start looking for another place
> although do not expect that your ideas will always be well received.
> "Older, trained on the job, and with lots of experiences" supervisors
> usually are not very open to suggestions, especially when those ideas
> conflict with what they are used to do because they do not know the
> scientific basis of what they are doing.
> The less open to suggestions a person is, the more ignorant they are
> likely to be.
> René J.
>   *From:* Jenny Vega <histotech411 <@t> gmail.com>
> *To:* joelle weaver <joelleweaver <@t> hotmail.com>;
> histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> *Sent:* Saturday, September 29, 2012 6:26 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [Histonet] Cooling paraffin blocks with ice VS. Freezing
> Spray
> Thanks everybody for your answers. I cant respond them all but I concluded
> that the best way to get good sections is too chill the blocks on ice
> because I agree that it facilitates the process.
> I really don't understand why my supervisor depends so much on freezing
> sprays to cut and the pathologist has never complained about artifacts
> caused by them but I do believe that they are present because I have seen
> them getting formed. It makes sectioning difficult because you try to get
> sections free of holes and that contributes to the problem.
> At my lab is the same thing. My supervisor is in charge of the embedding
> and she just use the ice only for hardening the paraffin block. We don't
> have a standard embedding center with cold plate. Since is a small lab we
> just have a heating plate where we handle the specimens and place them in
> the molds and we cool them on ice trays. After they are removed from the
> molds they are placed on the counter in numerical order and they reach room
> temperature and get warm. I do think that if they get cold and moistened
> since the beginning it can facilitate the sectioning process except for
> certain tissues that are not well processed. In my lab I change the
> reagents in the tissue processor weekly but they get dirty too quickly
> because we processes a lot of breast and colon tissue so is hard to get
> perfectly processed tissue daily. We are under a tight budget and we can't
> waste materials too quickly.
> This situation with my supervisor has caused me a lot of frustration. I
> have noticed that every tech has their own method to do things but
> unfortunately there are people who are not receptive to new ideas and they
> immediately criticize and say you are wrong specially if you are young and
> you have recently started your career. I have though on several occasions
> that all I learned in histotech school have been worthless because
> everybody in the lab does things differently and this has made me question
> my ability of being a good tech because I have experienced difficulty using
> their microtomy technique but I have realized that I am not wrong.
> Another issue was the use of microtome blades. Since I started my
> supervisor has told me to use the minimum amount of blades as possible
> because we are under a tight budget but I have noticed that some of those
> blades are of poor quality and since we cut a lot of tissues that are hard,
> calcified or have sutures they wear the blades too quickly. It's hard to
> cut many blocks using  only one blade that you use to trim and section. I
> have realized that I am successful obtaining good sections when I chill the
> blocks on ice for a couple of minutes and change the blade immediately
> after encountering difficulties with a block. It's not worth to sacrifice
> the quality of the samples just to be cheap and save some money.
> My supervisor is a great person and tech with a lot of experience but she
> is not very open to new ideas. Her demands to save money can be unrealistic
> when the correct technique is not being used . With her technique of course
> you are going to waste excess of freezing spray and blades but she doesn't
> understand this. Perhaps I need a change of environment which is
> unfortunate but is difficult to work like this.
> Thanks everyone for their input
> On Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 8:56 AM, joelle weaver <joelleweaver <@t> hotmail.com
> >wrote:
> >  Jenny
> >
> > My experience and training is to use some method involving ice or at the
> > very least a cold-retaining tray made to chill blocks. I also was taught
> > this method in histology school , in clinical training at four quite
> > large institutions,  and also have used some variation of an ice cooling
> > method in every instance in my career working in clinical and research
> > settings. There are always variations in technique from lab to lab, but
> > freezing spray has been generally discouraged  for constant use at the
> > microtome, since it can introduce artifact in sections if over used. (
> It
> > is pretty easy to see the effect on the face of the paraffin block, and
> > that is not even under the microscope.) I actually almost never use
> > freezing spray personally for regular paraffin microtomy. I  do use it
> when
> > doing frozen sections on occasion, but then it is typically only for
> > difficult specimens such as fatty breast or soft/fattty lymph nodes that
> > need very cold temperatures. I sometimes use it to cool only the backside
> > of paraffin blocks during embedding when I am being impatient, and I
> avoid
> > spraying directly on the face, and that is about the extent it of freeze
> > spray's uses for me.
> >
> > Personally, I prefer my blocks quite cold, in fact, one thing I don't
> like
> > where I currently work , is that blocks are allowed to get to room
> > temperature after removal from the embedding cold plate. I feel that I
> can
> > more efficiently get good sections when the cold temperature is
> maintained
> > and uniform though the block,  rather than re-cooling a warmed room temp.
> > block.  Overall, I would expect constant and direct application of the
> > freezing spray would be more of a problem than anything involving ice,
> > which would "flash freeze" mostly the surface, and not cool throughout,
> > which is why you have to keep spraying it.  Of course, I am not talking
> > about leaving the faced block surface on the ice for so long a time that
> it
> > becomes "water-logged"- but if you are sitting at your microtome and
> > cutting diligently, and not leaving faced pecimens just sit there, I'm
> not
> > sure how this would be an issue.
> >
> > In general I think the combination of ice and water benefits most
> > specimens  ( especially GI and Liver cores, bloody stuff, and other
> > types-that can sometimes be brittle and delicate due to processing)-I
> feel
> > that the small amount of moisture that transfers from contact with the
> > ice aids the smoothness/ reduces brittleness of the section,
> > reducing "shatter" artifact. I feel that I would be unable to get
> sections
> > without chatter in hard/dense tissues such as uterus body, cervix, bloody
> > specimens and others without using ice. The only exception for me, might
> be
> > brain which can cut better warm.
> >
> >  I am sure you must be frustrated, but if this is the clear direction of
> > your supervisor, and they are not receptive to making any changes or
> > allowing you to use your preferred technique, and not interested in
> > new different methods,  then  I am not sure that there would be much that
> > you can do other than comply with their policies. I know it is hard when
> > people are not open to new ideas and techniques . I  had have
> > that experience and  those feelings  quite often over the years, but just
> > try to stay postive, do the best you can.
> >
> >
> >
> > Joelle Weaver MAOM, HTL (ASCP) QIHC
> >
> > > Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2012 22:39:31 -0400
> > > From: histotech411 <@t> gmail.com
> > > To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> > > Subject: [Histonet] Cooling paraffin blocks with ice VS. Freezing Spray
> >
> > >
> > > I want to know what is your preferred method for cutting paraffin
> blocks
> > in
> > > the microtome everyday. At work I am having issues with my supervisor
> > > because we have different ways of doing things like for example she
> > doesn't
> > > like to use the technique where you first trim the tissue, cool it on
> an
> > > ice tray and then make a section. That is how I learned to cut in
> > histotech
> > > school. Instead she just trims and cuts the blocks at 4 microns one by
> > one
> > > using the same blade until it wears out and she cools the blocks only
> > > freezing spray.
> > >
> > > She doesn't like to cool the blocks on an ice tray because according to
> > her
> > > is a waste of time and that is why I have to use her technique but
> > > unfortunately some blocks are extremely difficult to cut and I have to
> go
> > > back to my preferred technique. I feel I get better sections without
> > > wrinkles when I chill and soak the blocks on ice for a couple of
> > minutes. I
> > > sometimes use freeze spray when the blocks get warm but when I cool
> them
> > > with ice I don't need to use freeze spray that much. Her technique
> works
> > > but is more successful when the blocks are well processed. I have
> > > difficulty getting completed sections this way and spend more time
> trying
> > > to get the perfect section. Sometimes I have my good days but other
> times
> > > is tedious using this technique. Another thing I notice is that the
> > blades
> > > get worn down quicker when you use them to trim and section. I prefer
> two
> > > separate blades, one to trim and the other one to section. I feel they
> > stay
> > > sharp for more time.
> > >
> > > She discourages the use of ice but then complains that we are running
> out
> > > of freezing spray for the frozen sections too quickly which doesn't
> make
> > > sense. It is obvious that if she encourages to use ice to cool blocks
> > then
> > > we will be using less freezing spray.
> > >
> > > Another reason she discourages the use of ice is that some blocks are
> not
> > > meant to be chilled which is pretty understandable. I cannot cool small
> > > biopsies such as gastric and skin and bone because they can get too
> hard
> > > and tear off from the block so I avoid that but I prefer to cool breast
> > and
> > > colon biopsies on ice because these are fatty tissue that can be
> tedious
> > to
> > > cut even when relying only on freezing spray.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I want to know if it's completely acceptable for me to prefer the trim,
> > > cool on ice and section technique and if you feel is a waste of time
> > > comparing it with other ways of cutting such as the one I mentioned.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Thanks.
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Histonet mailing list
> > > Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> > > http://lists.utsouthwestern.edu/mailman/listinfo/histonet
> >
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