Around the world Anatomical Pathology laboratories have begun investigating sustainable strategies to address the ever-growing surgical specimen backlog for the Anatomical Pathology laboratory.

They ask…

What is the production capacity of my laboratory?

What alterations to our workflow would be required to increase our production capacity?

Do we have the proper instrumentation for maximum production capacity?

Are we properly staffed?

What else can be automated to increase production capacity?

It is fair to say that the Anatomical Pathology laboratory has automated many of their benches in the last 40 years. Automated vacuum tissue processors, fully automated microtomes, automated and linked stainer-coverslippers, fully automated IHC/ISH platforms, and high throughput automated cassette/slide printers are the standard in most Anatomical Pathology laboratories. These technologies not only enhanced production capacity but also improved working conditions for Medical Laboratory Technologists and most importantly improved the quality of the patient sample.

Between 2020 and 2021 significant changes took place for all laboratories, some of it planned but most of it unplanned. The Anatomical Pathology laboratory had to adapt to constant workflow changes, much like their counterparts in molecular microbiology. 

As valuable hospital beds and healthcare professionals were redeployed to bolster the response to each COVID-19 wave, the number of surgical procedures performed dropped. We then saw the reverse—COVID-19 hospital admissions were low as many operating rooms went into overdrive to clear the surgical backlog. The result was increased specimens into the Anatomical Pathology laboratory which coupled with a chronic staffing shortage resulted in delayed patient results.

The one area of the Anatomical Pathology Laboratory that has yet to benefit from the automation evolution is the embedding bench.

Sakura’s Tissue-Tek AutoTEC® a120 is changing that…

The AutoTEC® a120 is a fully automated tissue embedding system that eliminates the tedious and labor-intensive need to manually orient and embed tissue specimens. Depending on the volume of specimens placed on to the AutoTEC® a120, a laboratory can reallocate several valuable MLTs to other benches within the Anatomical Pathology laboratory.

The AutoTEC® a120 embeds at a reliable rate of 120 cassettes per hour, which is on average twice the rate of manual embedding. The paraffin processed by the AutoTEC® a120 are immediately ready for sectioning on a microtome thanks to the SMARTair® technology. This feature removes excess paraffin from the block, eliminating any additional time needed to scrap and prepare the block for sectioning with manually embedding.

Automating embedding is the next significant step in the automation of the Anatomical Pathology laboratory.

For a preview of the technology please click here.