Innovations In pathology
Seth L. Haber, MD
Luis Carlos Rey-Martinez, MD, of Space Coast Pathologists, PA, Melbourne,
Fla., finds he can take more effective gross photos by holding a
simple magnifying lens, similar to the one his histotechnologists
use for embedding, as close as he can to the lens. He fills the
frame this way while not decreasing the sharpness of the lens on
his digital camera (a Kodak DC280 Zoom). His technique is particularly
helpful for those whose camera lenses do not accommodate the filter-like
commercial close-up “Portra” lenses.
When the image from the scanning objective of his 15-year-old Zeiss
microscope became blurred, Harold R. Amsbaugh, MD, of Greater Iowa
Pathology Associates, Decorah, Iowa, called the manufacturer. Zeiss
told him the objective was too old to repair or replace. Dr. Amsbaugh
sent the objective to a local repair service (John Petterson at
515-270-8048) that found that oil had seeped into the lens. When
he removed the oil from the inner surfaces of the lens, the objective
worked perfectly. Other local microscope or camera lens repair services
might have done as well.
Arthur H. Mensch, MD, of Inova Alexandria (Va.) Hospital, has a
neat way of weighing messy specimens without having to clean his
scale pan repeatedly. He weighs the specimen container with the
specimen and all its extraneous fluid (blood, formalin, etc.) inside.
Then he removes the specimen and reweighs the container without
the specimen but with the extraneous effluvia. Subtracting the second
weight from the first tares to the weight of the specimen.
a quiz or paper
Gilbert E. Corrigan, MD, PhD, of University Medical Center Laboratory,
Lafayette, La., uses his bibliographic service (Ovid, Medscape,
NLM, Aries) in a convenient way to write a quiz or do a meta-analysis.
He first searches for the subjects and sends the chosen abstracts
to his home computer as e-mail. At home, he downloads the abstracts
to a file and opens the file in a word processor. Next, he uses
the “tile” function of the word processor to make the
download 50 percent of the window. He opens a new word processor
document and tiles that document into the other half of the screen.
That gives him the literature on half of the screen and a blank
space on the other half. He can then easily cut and paste as he
writes the quiz or paper in the blank new document. Of course, each
question in the quiz can be referenced.
Mett B. Ausley Jr., MD, of Columbus County Hospital, Whiteville,
NC, suggests that tiny whitish biopsy fragments floating in specimen
containers are hard to see against the background of a white cutting
board. He cuts discarded x-ray film into small squares and places
one square on the cutting board when he grosses these specimens.
It is easier to locate and grasp the fragments against the dark
I had suggested
years ago using vinyl flooring tiles as cutting boards. They are
inexpensive (disposable), easy to clean, kind to blades, and come
in white, black, and a rainbow of solid colors. They can be cut
to any convenient size from the 9-inch and 12-inch squares in which
when cut into 3-inch squares, with moistened cigarette, lens, Kimwipes,
or curler papers stuck on one side, are ideal to help wrap minuscule
specimens (Innovations in Pathology: The Best of Thirty Years,
pp. 112–113, www.cap.org).
these filter tips
No, I’m not touting a new kind of cigarettes—I’m
a militant anti-smoker. I’m referring to tips—that is,
innovations—on filtering specimens.
Izak B. Dimenstein,
MD, PhD, HT (ASCP), of Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood,
Ill., has good tips for filtering small specimens. He points out
that filtration in the cassette is the safest method and often the
uses two layers of blotting paper or multifold hand towels and two
disposable plastic containers of different diameters but equal heights.
He cuts two sections out of the smaller container into which the
cassettes will fit. The larger one just supports the cassette lid.
As an alternative,
he suggests laying the cassette on a piece of moistened lens paper
or a piece of a wet baby diaper in a standard glass slide box. The
brand of the baby diaper does not matter substantially. We (at Kaiser
Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara, Calif.) used disposable
absorbent underpads designed for hospital beds and old newspapers
we were recycling.
larger specimens, Dr. Dimenstein filters the material through a
small strainer with a fine mesh. (An assortment of strainers is
available from Williams-Sonoma and other kitchen supplies stores.)
Also, he finds that urology stone interceptors are effective for
specimens submitted in a large amount of fixative.
on these subjects are in Innovations in Pathology: The Best
of Thirty Years, chapter 7, www.cap.org.
Stephen G. Ruby, MD, of Palos Community Hospital, Palos Heights,
Ill., and Garry W. Gill, CT (ASCP) CFIAC, of Indianapolis, remind
us that labs should use matching color labels, frosted slides, and
cassettes. Then, if they change the color each year, a quick visual
check ensures that slides or blocks are not misfiled in the wrong
Ronald Freake, DSc, of McCamey (Tex.) Hospital and Convalescent
Center, suggests the use of “bench extenders” to increase
the amount of workspace by up to 40 percent. They are similar to
the under-counter pull-out shelves common in many kitchens. They
can be custom-made and installed by any cabinetmaker at the time
the countertops are built or as a retrofit. They’re pulled
out as needed and then returned to their place under the countertop.
Microsoft introduced a few months ago a “Teacher” version of Office
XP that it sells through Staples, Best Buy, Office Depot, and other large office
retailers. It is intended for K-12 teachers and students, but those retailers
don’t check IDs and Microsoft doesn’t enforce the rules. In other
words, anybody can buy the “Teacher” edition of Office XP standard
for $129.99, which is as good as academic pricing.