[Histonet] Microtomy of Equine Tendon Blocks

Alan aj.taylor at blueyonder.co.uk
Tue Dec 5 10:03:07 CST 2017

Greetings to all on Histonet. I have a particularly challenging question regarding the sectioning of Equine tendon material. My colleague and I recently received a number of TS tendon slices. Unfortunately they had been placed in 90% IDA for fixation approximately 10 years ago, where they remained up to the point they were sent to our lab for cutting and staining. 
The blocks are extremely hard, almost like undecalcified bone. They have processed well into paraffin, but we have wrecked several disposable blades just in facing the blocks. They have a very gritty feel on trimming even at 2 microns.
We have tried some commercial softening agents, including Mollifex, with long immersion over days, rather than the usual hour or so, we have tried neat fabric softener and 10% phenol in 70% IDA. We have also left some blocks in molten paraffin for several days, as this sometimes works with very fibrous tissues. As does prolonged chilling with ice and water.
We have managed to recover a small number of reasonable sections, at present we are looking at 1 block = 1 blade to obtain a very few working sections.
Do any histotechs out there have any secret recipes that they are prepared to share and have made up themselves, or a popular in-house reagent that they know is reliable,  that they have enjoyed success  with in their labs, or references to softening solutions for very difficult tissues, that may be historical or more recent. We have, of course, asked the referring lab to place all future freshly dissected tissues immediately into 10%NBF. Thank you for any assistance you are able to offer.

Yours sincerely
Alan Taylor BSc(Hons). FRMS
Microtechnical Services
Exeter. UK

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