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Introduction to Rotary Microtome Parts and Functions

   |  February 15, 2023

What is Rotary Microtome:

Paraffin sectioning is the most common histological technique applied in preparing tissue sections. Its application is not only limited to the observation of the form and structure of normal cells, but it is also the major pathological and forensic scientific method used for studying, observing and determining the changes in the form of cellular tissues. It is also widely used in other fields of scientific research. As for rotary microtome, it is a common assistive instrument used in pathology for paraffin embedding. 

Who needs it?

●Clinical departments/laboratories: clinical laboratory, pathology, dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, other specialized hospitals, etc.
●Third-party pathology diagnostic centers, third-party clinical laboratories
●Colleges and biological research centers
●Morphology teaching labs & third-party services corporations
●Cro (contract research organization) & pharmaceutical companies
●Single-cell genome sequencing corporations or companies providing similar services

Rotary Microtome Main Applications

●For observing the morphological structure of normal cellular tissues of plants and animals
●For studying, observing and determining the morphological changes of cellular tissues
●For immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, genome sequencing, etc.

Rotary Microtome Types

Common Microtome Types, Disadvantages and Advantages

Rotary Microtome1. Has a knife holder2. Can only install one knife at a time for trimming and sectioningAllows serial cuts which are specifically applicable to biopsies including puncture spiecimen/
Slid Microtome1. Both knife and specimen slide together during trimming; the specimen is held stationary and the knife slides during sectioning.2. Can install two knives for trimming and sectioning1. It saves time for cutting large sample blocks
2. Can install two knives at the same time for trimming and sectioning, saving the use of knives. 
3. Mainly for scientific research on large tissues and observation of multi-layered tissues. 
1. Can only cut once at a time.
2. requires the installation of atmoizers; removal of static electricity increases the costs
3. not suitable for small tissue sectioning including gastroscopy biopsy.
4. time-consuming for cutting small tissues, which slows down the process. 
Vibratome1. can cut fresh tissues without fixation and refrigeration.2. Larger cutting thickness: 20-100μm1. Lipid soluble substances and surface antigens in the tissue are more well preserved as unrefrigerated tissue samples, and it doesn’t give rise to the formation of crystals and doesn’t cause any damage to the antigens of the tissue sample.
2. It’s mainly used for showing the distribution of antibodies in the neurological system, especially for immune electron microscopy. 

As the market demand is ever-changing, it is not possible for a single-function microtome to accommodate the requirements of pathological diagnostic sectioning. Now, rotary microtome is commonly used as the mainstream tool for sectioning. 

Three Types of Rotary Microtome

Manual Rotary MicrotomeThe operation mechanism of hand wheel injection system; The working principle of motor gear injection systemLong-term use of motor gear results in abrasion, undermining the precision of injection. As a result, there is not sufficient data for display but the cost is low. 
Semi-automatic Rotary MicrotomeHalf-automated with injection knob or external control panel; Motorized injection system mechanismMotorized injection system guarantees precision. The life span of the machine is longer and, the more complete display of data is specifically applicable to the clinical condition. 
Automated Rotary MicrotomeFully automated with injection knob or external control panel; Motorized injection system mechanism.Possessing fully automated slicing function with precision tantamount to its semi-automated counterpart. It’s also applicable to research units and suitable for newly trained pathologists. 

Semi-automatic and rotary microtome recommendations.

Read more: The Start of the Automated Rotary Microtome Era -RWD Science

Rotary Microtome Parts and Functions

Major Rotary Microtome Parts For Day-to-day Operations :

The highly precise injection system which possesses the main components including cross roller bearings, spindle, stepper motor and link block, guarantees the quality of section results, fulfilling the 0.5μm injection requirement. 

The visual pointer provides calibration that marks the specimen head, allowing real-time and reversible adjustment which is specifically applicable to the embedding of thicker tissues or sections prepared from an unusual cutting angle; 

Highly precise encoder receives timely automated cutting signals. After the automated cutting finishes, the digital brake is triggered to stabilize the handwheel and ensure the safety of users. There are four automated cutting modes (single, cont, int, multi) to accommodate various conditions. Cutting window function improves the efficiency of sectioning.  

Handwheel system possesses the double lock system- handwheel lock and lock; retraction device provides protection for users.  

Rotary Microtome Troubleshooting And Tips 

Read more: Microtome Sectioning of Tissue- RWD Science

Rotary Microtome Maintenance Tips 

5.1 Annual Inspection

Annual inspection helps to keep the equipment in good working condition. We suggest carrying out a complete inspection of the imaging system yearly. 

5.2 Records Preservation

Maintenance records should be preserved for future reference, including time, place and process. 

5.3 Parts and Materials 

If some parts or materials need to be replaced during maintenance, please contact the factory’s after-sale service personnels. 

5.4 Product Cleaning and Maintenance

●Don’t scratch the machine with hard or sharp objects; 
●Wipe the surface using clean water instead of chemical reagent; 
●Avoid shaking or crashing the machine during operation; 
●Please fasten the screws for all parts using the given tools every two months; 
●If the machine is left unused for a long period of time, please unplug the power cable, store the equipment appropriately and cover the optical imaging part with cloth for dust prevention.

Free Download:An Ultimate Guide to Microtome Machine and Sectioning

The ultimate guide to microtome machine and sectioning offers detailed information on rotary microtome machine, functionalities, applications, selection tips, sectioning techniques, precautions and sectioning troubleshooting and tips. It is an essential guide for researchers and medical professionals to master rotary microtome machine and successfully apply it in diverse fields.

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