Problems in Histopathological Technique


Prepared by


IMVS Division of Pathology

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Woodville Road, Woodville, South Australia 5011






Did you know that tissues which are placed directly into 100% ethyl alcohol from a fixative undergo considerably more shrinkage and distortion than tissues which progress through a series of diluter alcohols such as 70%, 80% and 90%?




This is a result of the great differences in specific gravity and surface tension between the liquid and tissue. If 70% alcohol is used first there is far less volatility in the reaction between fluid and tissue components as the 30% water contained in the solution moderates the interchange of fluids. Going directly into absolute alcohol causes quite a violent reaction between the fluid and tissue components as water is removed from cells quite rapidly. The tissue never fully recovers losing about one third of its volume.




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© Roy C. Ellis 2002