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The cleaning process of a paraffin tray during microtomy may seem like a mundane and ordinary task. However, when you consider the time it takes to clean the tray and the number of times per day this occurs, it can add up to a significant amount of time and resources each day. Leica Biosystems’ new anti-static microtome paraffin tray was designed to resist the adhesion of paraffin sections to the tray and allow for ease of cleaning. The following research was conducted to measure the different time measurements between the following methods: cleaning a standard paraffin tray; cleaning a standard paraffin tray with wet paper towels; and cleaning the anti-static tray.

Fig 1: Paraffin's tray

Each method started by filling the paraffin tray of the HistoCore AUTOCUT Automated Rotary Microtome with 7000, 4-micron sections. The tray was then emptied by first knocking it on the side of the waste bin 3 times to remove all loose paraffin. The timer was started when the remaining paraffin that was adhered to the tray was swept away with a brush and stopped when this process was completed. Each method: standard tray, standard tray with paper towel and antistatic tray, was duplicated 15 times. The mean data and statistical data is shown at right.

Results (mean):

  • Standard tray: 16.07 seconds
  • Standard with wet paper towels: 11.33 seconds
  • Anti-Tray 4.8 seconds
Fig 2: 70% Reduction in total cleaning time from the standard tray

From the observed results, a 70% reduction in total cleaning time from the standard tray was calculated. The time savings can be further demonstrated by the number of times a tray is cleaned each day. If, for example, 10 standard trays are cleaned 10 times in an 8-hour shift, the resulting time would be 1607 seconds, or 26.8 minutes per 8 hours. If the anti-static tray is used, the resulting cleaning time would be 8 minutes per 8 hours. This is a significant difference in time, freeing up 18.8 minutes every 8 hours, or 56.4 minutes during a 24 hour day. This results in a savings of nearly 1 hour of tray cleaning time every day.

Fig 3: Savings of 18.8 minutes per 8 hrs & Savings of 56.4 minutes per 24 hrs

Instruments used in this case study

HistoCore BIOCUT
The Next-Gen Manual Rotary Microtome
The Semi-Automated Rotary Microtome
The Automated Rotary Microtome

This reference document is presented as a service to health care professionals by Leica Biosystems and has been compiled from available literature. Although every effort has been made to report faithfully the information, Leica Biosystems cannot be held responsible for the correctness. This document is not intended to be, and should not be construed as medical advice. For any use, the product information guides, inserts and operation manuals of the various drugs and devices should be consulted. Leica Biosystems and the editors disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of drugs, devices, techniques or procedures described in this reference document.