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Devices used to prepare tissue specimens before microscopy. The process of fixation, dehydration, clearing, and treatment of tissues is automated by these devices.
1. Users' preferences and space requirements should determine the configuration of the tissue processor or infiltrator unit. Options include floor standing, bench top, and freestanding. The tissue processor should be configured as a multi-station system.
2. The unit should operate using at least paraffin bath processing for light microscopy, and should include a chamber/beaker with a capacity of at least 1 L.
3. Because tissue processors use potentially dangerous chemicals, the infiltrator unit should have the appropriate vacuum and fume handling systems. Facilities should also consider other safety features, such as automatic shutdown and spill prevention.
4. Preferred tissue processor units are those that can interface with a printer or data management system for data processing and storage. However, this is not a required feature. It is also preferred that tissue processors have protection during a power loss for memory and specimen protection.
5. Paraffin baths are usually used by facilities to embed most tissue specimens. It is easily formed into a ribbon of serial sections that can be quickly mounted. However, paraffin sections show more specimen shrinkage.
6. For delicate specimens, such as gastrointestinal mucosa and pulmonary parenchyma, the plastic embedding technique is often used. It is also used for cases in which cellular detail is significant, as in lymph node pathology and bladder, prostate, and breast neoplasm grading.
7. This technique shows similar long-term costs in comparison to paraffin bath processing, as well as greater visual definition, because thinner tissue sections down to single cell layers, can be obtained and the plastic does not form serial sections. Facilities should be aware of the fact that the initial acquisition cost does not accurately reflect the total cost of ownership, since these devices require ongoing maintenance and operational costs.
8. Facilities should consider life-cycle cost, local service support, discount rates and non-price-related benefits offered by the tissue processor supplier, and standardization with existing equipment.
9. The tissue processor, infiltrator or paraffin bath suppliers offer facilities service contracts or service on a time-and-materials basis. A third-party organization may also offer such services. Facilities should carefully consider the decision to purchase a service contract, which can be justified for several reasons.
10. Tissue processor tests needing little or no training belong to the waived tests category. These do not require elaborate QC, and are less likely to produce inaccurate results. One example is the no automated dipstick urinalysis.
11. Most clinical laboratory tests, including automated urine, blood, and chemistry analyses, belong to the moderate complexity category. In this group the tests and analyzers require a limited amount of sample and reagent preparation, as well as limited operator intervention during the tissue processor analytical process.
12. The highly complex category encompasses procedures requiring a high degree of operator preparation, calibration, intervention, and analysis, such as clinical cytogenics and histopathology applications.