Radiographic Determination of Tissue Thickness in Paraffin Blocks: Application to the Construction of Tissue Microarrays

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The determination of tissue thickness in paraffin blocks in the histology laboratory has been largely based on visual estimates. More accurate methods are required for the construction of tissue microarrays (TMAs) to assure a greater yield of cores in sections through the TMA block. We describe an accurate radiographic method to determine tissue thickness in donor paraffin blocks and have validated its application to TMA construction. Individual radiographic analysis was performed on paraffin donor blocks used for the construction of TMAs for determination of donor block tissue thickness. Consecutive numbered slide sections through the TMA block were then examined for the presence or loss of cores in the 150th TMA slide (from the final third of the TMA block) and correlated with the thickness of the individual donor blocks determined radiographically. At the 150th TMA slide, 202 of 1340 cores (15.1%) were depleted. Radiographic measurement showed a greater thickness of the donor paraffin block tissue (2.02 mm) corresponding to the retained cores as compared with the donor tissue (1.54 mm) of the depleted cores (P<0.001). With progressive slide sections through a TMA block, the retention of tissue cores shows a significant correlation with donor block tissue thickness. Radiographic determination of tissue thickness in donor paraffin blocks can be used in TMA construction. Prior knowledge of tissue thickness in TMA construction can prompt compensatory steps that can enhance the yield of valuable samples and assure sufficient numbers of adequate cores for statistical analysis in biomarker evaluations.

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