Whats new in slide makers and slide stainers?

July 1, 2011


oday’s slide makers and slide stainers are helping laboratories provide fast, cost-efficient, reliable, and uniform staining results. Advances in multiple settings; linked systems that automatically move slides from the stainer to the coverslipper; electro-optical technology available for Gram stains; automated slide stainers for immunohistochemistry (IHC); and IHC/in situ hybridization systems that deliver any test and any reagent at any time are among the newest technologies that are enabling labs to meet the demands of the fast-paced medical world.

Eliminate batching slides and stressful pre-planning
“As workloads and demands for quick patient results increase, histology labs will continue to look for ways to improve workflow efficiencies and TAT, while protecting and enhancing slide quality and reproducibility. Labs will keep looking for technologies that will help them respond to day-to-day workflow problems that could compromise TAT and efficiency. Having IHC/in situ hybridization systems that deliver any test and any reagent at any time will allow labs to quickly respond to unpredictable workflow without disruption. This will allow labs to process tests as they are received in the lab STAT, eliminating the need to batch slides and reducing stressful pre-planning needs. For hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining processes, not only is single slide automation important for workflow efficiency but it also produces higher quality and more accurate results. Individualized slide-staining platforms that apply fresh reagents to each slide will be necessary for labs to protect against cross contamination between specimens.”
—Dave Flaten,
International Business Leader
Advanced Staining Platforms
Ventana Medical Systems
Maker of SYMPHONY and BenchMark ULTRA

Automated stainers for all labs
“In the past, automated slide staining was often associated with large commercial labs; smaller labs stained by hand. Now most laboratories, regardless of size, require fast turnaround time (TAT), cost-efficient, reliable, and uniform staining results that are independent of the technician who prepares them. Today’s small hematology stainers can save and select multiple settings for different types of specimens, including blood, bone marrow, and spinal fluid. Microbiology stainers provide high-quality Gram staining and different natural or fluorescent acid-fast stains for mycobacteria. Staining cycles for small to medium batches of slides are completed in just a few minutes. Current bench-top stainers include options for cytocentrifugation and built-in fixation. For consistent results, laboratories require staining reagents that are carefully quality controlled. System qualification, and traceability of stain procedures and materials are becoming increasingly important. Having the right stainer with features that meet today’s requirements is key to addressing current laboratory needs.”
—Dennis Briscoe, President,
Wescor, division of ELITech North America
Manufacturer of ELITech Biomedical Systems Aerospray
(offers stainers and cytocentrifuges)

Leaving the Dark Ages: the new Gram stainer
“For about 100 years now, the Gram stain process has changed very little. It required following a set sequence: stain application, decolorize, and rinse. In many labs today, slides are manually stained and timed over the sink or set for a fixed proGram for timing of the slide(s) by spray or dip systems. Any lab distraction or picking the wrong setting can result in an over or under decolorized slide.””New patented ‘electro-optical technology’ is available for the Gram stain which will eliminate this worry regardless of sample type or thickness. The time demands of lab techs dictate that the stain process not be ‘operator dependent’ but must deliver repeatable and dependable results, regardless of who does the staining. For consistency and improving operator confidence in the Gram stain process, electro-optical technology will take you out of the Dark Ages.”
—Doug Burns,
Office Manager
GG&B Company
Offers AGS-1000 & MGS-80 Automated Gram Stainers

User-friendly and ergonomic cryostat design features
“Histology laboratories on the lookout for new instrumentation are increasingly requesting comfort features as well as innovative design in their high-use equipment. In the research and clinical research environments, cryosectioning equipment poses unique challenges to user comfort due to the long hours spent at the cryostat. Users are generally required to stand in front of the cryostat for extended periods preparing samples and mounting frozen sections on slides. Extended periods of standing while cryosectioning can cause muscle strain to the back and neck areas leading, in many cases, to personal injury and lost work productivity. Improvements in cryostat comfort design, or ergonomics, including user-selected electronic height adjustment to allow a seated or standing position while sectioning, integrated cryochamber LED lighting which is user-adjustable for brightness, and a form-fitting front and top panel design are all features that greatly improve user comfort at the cryostat. Further convenience features such as joystick control of cryostat settings and a color touch-screen LCD monitor which provides fingertip control over critical cryostat functions while maintaining a clean clutter-free workspace also add innovative design to a high-use instrument. As user comfort and innovative design features make their way into routine histology equipment, we can look forward to a functional and modern look in the new histology laboratory.”
—Mark Rehse,
Americas Product Manager – Instruments
Thermo Scientific Anatomical Pathology Products
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Maker of CryoStar NX70 Cryostat

Linked systems allow optimized use of tech’s skills and time
“The most significant advance in the area of staining and coverslipping is linked systems that automatically move slides from the stainer to the coverslipper — providing true, walk-away convenience. Prior to linked systems, a technician was required to stop work to move a slide basket from the stainer to the coverslipper, and then a second time to remove it from the coverslipper. The technician’s skills and time spent were not optimally utilized. Now, with linked systems, users can place a rack or several racks of slides in the stainer, start the process, and walk away. Slides are then stained and coverslipped automatically. Designed to be compatible with LEAN and other efficiency-optimization systems, linked systems increase labor efficiency and reduce the need for batches by providing continuous-flow loading capabilities and co-location of equipment. With linked systems, labs will realize significant, quantifiable time savings while still enjoying unparalleled slide quality.”
—Scott C. Maloff, Product Manager
Sakura Finetek USA
Offers Tissue-Tek Prisma/Film and
Prisma/Glas g2 Automated Slide Stainers and Coverslippers

Save hands-on time with LIS software compatible with auto-stainers
“More clinical laboratories are turning to automated systems to maximize efficiency and flexibility, accelerate productivity, and reduce costs. The future of automated slide stainers for IHC preparation of patient slides will meet those goals at several levels. Fully open systems will allow maximum flexibility in using reagents from any source and on-demand workflow of running multiple simultaneous batches to provide LEAN processes for laboratories. Automated slide stainers compatible with laboratory information system software will save hours of hands-on time in entering patient and test information. Moreover, laboratories are currently enhancing productivity with simultaneous multiplex IHC capability on their automated stainers. We expect this segment to grow rapidly, enabling laboratories to run up to five antibodies simultaneously on a single slide. This will reduce labor and reagent costs by up to 50% to 66%. Future automation will continue to evolve to meet laboratory workflow needs and reduce tedious manual procedures to create truly walkaway systems.”Karen Lynn is a freelance medical writer.
—Poupak Farahani, PhD,
Product Manager
Biocare Medical
Maker of intelliPATH FLX