Scanning Microscopy


In contrast to fixation of tissue in externally heated fixative, microwave-irradiation can generate uniform internal heat, which is of utmost importance for successful fixation of biological tissue. To evaluate the effectiveness of microwave-accelerated chemical fixation, we compared the structure of rat kidney fixed by a conventional method and a microwave-accelerated method, by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Following perfusion, rat kidney pieces 1-2 mm in size were irradiated in Karnovsky's fixative in a domestic Amana microwave oven, till the temperature of the fixative reached 45-50°C. For conventional fixation, tissue pieces were fixed overnight at room temperature in the same fixative. Both types of samples were processed further for electron microscopy using identical protocols. The microwave fixed samples showed excellent preservation of structure comparable to the samples fixed by the conventional method. Glomeruli and the renal tubules showed normal morphology with no cellular swelling. The cytoplasm and nuclear matrix of the epithelial cells was uniformly dense. Other fixation sensitive organelles like mitochondria and Golgi apparatus showed superior preservation with continuous membranes. These results demonstrate that microwave accelerated chemical fixation results in excellent preservation of tissue structure, reduces processing time significantly and is therefore a practical alternative to conventional protocols.

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