Microtomy of Paraffin-Embedded Tissue (retired 6/6/2018) (by LabCE)

(based on 202 customer ratings)

Author: Diana Harrington, BS, HT(ASCP)
Reviewer: Brooke Eguia, BS, HT(ASCP), HTL(ASCP)

Course provided by LabCE.

This course will identify the tools, processes, techniques, and problems associated with producing quality tissue slides. Essential microtomy skills are reviewed, with a focus on improving the quality and integrity of the tissue slide. Troubleshooting skills for commonly encountered microtomy problems and artifacts are also discussed.

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Continuing Education Credits

Course number 20-547783, approved through 9/1/2018


  • Identify instruments and tools essential for successful paraffin sectioning.
  • State the most common factors that directly affect the quality of microtomy.
  • Summarize an organized approach to the process of sectioning tissue blocks that focuses on improving the quality and integrity of the tissue slide.
  • Compare various cutting protocols for different tissue types and sizes.
  • Discuss proper slide drying and preparation for deparaffinization.
  • List the various hazards associated with microtomy.
  • Identify and troubleshoot problems and artifacts associated with the flotation bath, paraffin block, or microtome.

Customer Ratings

(based on 202 customer ratings)

Course Outline

  • Introduction to Microtomy
      • Introduction to Microtomy
      • Introduction to Microtomy, continued:
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Rotary Microtome Parts
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Knives
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Knife Angles
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Flotation Bath
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Flotation Bath Artifacts and Adhesives
      • Instrumentation for Microtomy: Precision Tools and Slides
  • The Process of Sectioning Paraffin-Embedded Tissue
      • Common Factors Affecting Sectioning Quality
      • Process of Sectioning Paraffin Tissue
      • Special Sectioning Protocols for Various Tissue Types and Sizes
      • Proper Slide Drying for Paraffin-Sectioned Slides
  • Hazards Associated with Microtomy
      • Microtomy and Injury Prevention: Mechanical Hazards
      • Microtomy and Injury Prevention: Biological and Ergonomic Hazards
      • Injury Prevention: Good Laboratory Practice
  • Troubleshooting Microtomy Problems
      • Troubleshooting Common Microtomy Problems
  • Artifact Characteristics, Causes, and Corrections
      • Microtomy Artifacts: Causes and Corrections
      • Microtomy Artifacts: Causes and Corrections, continued.
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of instruction: Basic
Intended audience:  Clinical laboratory histotechnologists, histotechnicians, and other medical laboratory personnel who have an interest in this subject matter. This course is also appropriate for histology and clinical laboratory science students, pathology residents, and practicing pathologists.  
Author information: Diana Harrington, BS, HT(ASCP) is a histotechnologist at The Dermatology Center of Indiana. Since graduating from Indiana University, she has worked in various hospital laboratories as a medical technologist and histotechnologist. Her experience led her to teach IU students as a Clinical Education Supervisor and create the Histotechnology Program as Program Director for Keiser University in Florida.
Reviewer information: Brooke Eguia, BS, HT(ASCP), HTL(ASCP) is the Pathology Technical Supervisor at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota. She graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in general biology. While in college, Brooke's interests and studies focused on histologic techniques and gross anatomic dissection. As a senior in college, she co-authored for aquatic toxicology research that Aquaculture published in January 2009. Acting as a primary health career mentor to high school students, Brooke satisfied her desire for training and teaching histotechnicians and also worked as adjunct faculty at Rasmussen College, as a Medical Assistant laboratory techniques instructor. Most recently, she has focused on proctoring histology students in clinical/classroom progress and exam preparation.   
Course description:  The microtomy of paraffin-embedded tissue has been an essential component of microscopy for over a century. This course will identify and discuss the tools, processes, techniques, and problems associated with producing quality tissue slides, including necessary troubleshooting skills. 

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