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Tissue processors preserve human, animal or plant tissue specimens for microscopic analysis. A closed-system tissue processor consists of four major components:

  • The control panel, through which all operations are controlled.
  • The retort, which is an enclosed chamber that holds the tissue specimens and in which all processing occurs.
  • The paraffin oven, which maintains molten paraffin at the appropriate temperature for use during infiltration.
  • The reagent cabinet, which holds the bottles of reagents.

The operator places baskets that contain cassettes into which tissue has been embedded into the retort. The tissue processor then sequentially moves processing reagents and molten paraffin into and out of the retort through the use of vacuum and pressure. This prepares the cassettes for sectioning.

Common tissue processor problems:

  • Tissue processor/retort leaks fluid. This will cause a spill that requires cleanup, and diagnosis and repair of the source of the leak.
  • No pressure inside the retort. This will prevent the retort from draining.
  • No vacuum inside the retort. This will prevent the retort from filling.
  • The retort won’t fill. This will prevent the tissue processor from operating.
  • The retort won’t drain properly or completely. This will cause the tissue processor to malfunction. 
  • No power to the tissue processor. This will prevent the instrument from operating.
  • Display errors. This will cause the operator to have to solve the problem behind the error, or the tissue processor will shut down, depending on the error message.
  • Rotary valve won’t find the proper position. This will cause the tissue processor not to fill and could put the wrong reagent on the tissue. This could also damage the tissue samples.
  • Clogged lines inside the instrument. This will prevent the tissue processor from either filling or draining, depending on the location of the clog.
  • Excessive noise is produced. This will cause a nuisance, but if the problem is the pump or rotary valve, the tissue processor could fail.
  • Air leak inside the retort. This will cause a lack of pressure or a vacuum, which in turn would prevent the tissue processor from filling or draining.
  • Instrument lid won’t seal. This will cause a lack of pressure or a vacuum, which in turn would prevent the tissue processor from filling or draining.
  • Control panel display is blank. This will cause the instrument not to operate properly.

Tissue processor troubleshooting:

In the case of error codes on the tissue processor control panel display, please refer to the product user manual. Some models might have as many as 700 error messages. Different manufacturers use different codes and have different troubleshooting steps. In there is a loss of power to the unit, remember to check circuit breakers and fuses.

When a Tech One technician is needed, he will diagnose the problem and make appropriate repairs. The typical service call is one to three hours.

Tissue processor maintenance tips:

  • Clean the retort daily.
  • Make sure that fluid levels are filled and bottles are inserted properly, particularly at the end of the day to avoid an overnight problem.
  • Call a Tech One technician for assistance.

Tissue processor makes & models Tech One repairs:

  • Leica Biosystems: ASP300, TP1020, TP1050, Peloris
  • Sakura: Tissue-Tek VIP 5, Tissue-Tek VIP 6, Tissue-Tek VIP E150, Tissue-Tek VIP E300, Tissue-Tek VIP K1000, Tissue-Tek VIP K2000, Tissue-Tek VIP K3000
  • Thermo Scientific: Excelsior, Excelsior AS, Excelsior ES, Hypercenter XP, Pathcentre

More information:

  • Delay mode: This allows the operator to enter a desired end time, and the tissue processor automatically will calculate the program start time.
  • Closed system: Besides ensuring a sealed, moist environment for the tissues, it also provides essentially a fume-free environment outside the tissue processor.
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