Current and future changes in the world of slidemakers/stainers

June 1, 2010

Slide printing in the AP lab
New technology has enabled labs to automate slide printing at the point of use. Printing directly onto slides in a “just-in-time” fashion at the microtome or at the cytology slide processor greatly reduces the chance for placing the wrong patient's sample on the slide. This improvement in technology also greatly decreases rework in the laboratory and, more importantly, lessens the chance for patient misdiagnosis. Printing bar codes on slides also has a positive impact on patient safety, as downstream identification processes can be automated. Scanning bar codes to automatically bring up a case at the microscope diminishes the chance for human error when recording a diagnosis in the patient's medical record. As technology continues to advance, printing slides “just in time” and automating slide identification will be a necessity in every laboratory.

Greg Strader
Product Manager
Labeling and Verification Products
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Maker of SlideMate

Accurate bar-code match for each patient
Assuring that every specimen is always accurately matched to the correct patient is essential for each patient to receive the appropriate diagnosis and corresponding disease-management procedures. To achieve this, specimen tracking is critical from the time a patient's specimen is received in the lab, as it moves through each step of the laboratory process including IHC, during case review for pathologic diagnosis, and all the way though to archiving. Utilizing bar coding, LEAN work practices, and other new techniques for specimen tracking will greatly minimize human error and instill confidence in the minds of the laboratory staff and referring physicians. Most importantly, patients will know that diagnosis was based upon the correct specimen.

Jan Minshew
Marketing Manager
Biosystems Division
Leica Microsystems
Maker of Leica Bond and Novocastra reagents

Cut labor costs while increasing lab efficiency
The emerging technology of multiplex immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) is rapidly gaining momentum. Multiplex IHC technologies enable the laboratory to run up to five tests simultaneously and simplify interpretation while increasing laboratory efficiency at several levels. Multiplex IHC and ISH (RISH, CISH, FISH) tests cut labor costs by 50% to 66% since fewer slides need to be stained. Multiplex IHC also conserves tissue when staining pleural fluids or biopsy samples. Multiplex IHC enables the laboratory to multiply instrument throughput by an impressive two- to threefold; so a 50-slide, multiplex-enabled stainer can deliver 100 to 150 reimbursable tests per run. Throughput is greatly reduced, however, with non-multiplex-enabled systems since they require the IHC process to be repeated two or more times to achieve multiple stains. Multiplexing simplifies slide interpretation by allowing clinicians to count cell ratios, such as kappa:lambda, without switching slides. Furthermore, recent studies demonstrate that inter- and intra-pathologist interpretive variation is minimized when using multiplex IHC. Multiplex IHC tests support more consistent differentiation of PIN from prostate cancer as well as ADH from usual hyperplasia and DCIS in breast disease.

Mark Cross
Marketing and Business Development
Maker of PIN-4 and ADH-5

A new generation of auto-slide stainer/cytocentrifuges
Now available for customers worldwide, our family of stainers consists of dual-purpose microprocessor-controlled slide staining and cell-preparation systems. These stainers are capable of staining hematology, Gram, or acid-fast bacteria specimens and also doing cytocentrifugation with the optional cytocentrifuge rotor. This new generation of products continues to use atomizing spray nozzles to apply fresh reagents onto microscope slides mounted in a rotating carousel — a rapid and precise staining method, producing specimens with exceptionally clean fields with no cross-contamination. The product now has the capability to warn user's when reagent levels are low and when a clean cycle is recommended. Still designed, built, and serviced by the maker, the new generation of stainers include features for water-based hematology staining, alcohol-based hematology applications, microbiology applications; and acid-fast bacteria applications. A stand-alone cytocentrifuge is also available for use with the stainers.

Kent S. Thomas
Vice President of Sales
ELITech Biomedical
Maker of Aerospray family of stainers
and the Cytopro stand-alone cytocentrifuge