What is Histotechnology?
Histotechnology is a clinical laboratory specialty related to Histology, a division of anatomy dealing with the microscopic evaluation, composition and function of normal and abnormal tissues. Histologic techniques have been recorded in history as early as the 1600s, with Robert Hooke observing thin slices of cork under the microscope in 1664 and Leeuwenhoek looking at thin sections of biologicals and botanicals in 1670. These events paved the pathway to what has become an important and exciting medical laboratory discipline.
A variety of chemicals and dyes are used to prepare histology specimens and a histologist is trained in their composition and reactivity. With combined chemical and anatomy knowledge, the histologist treats tissue samples to produce a color palate, distinguishing tissue structures. The histologist operates and maintains several pieces of equipment in the preparation of tissue sections for microscopic evaluation and diagnosis.
The Science and the art:
Scientist, anatomist, chemist, artist, medical professional. A career in histotechnology comprises all of these disciplines, and much more. A histologist prepares very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissues for microscopic evaluation. The intricate process of scientific investigations that require tissue examination is essential in establishing and confirming patient diagnosis. Because this process requires a number of different skills, histotechnology is one of the most versatile laboratory professions.
The tasks performed by the histologist require patience, mechanical ability, knowledge of biology, physics, anatomy and chemistry, along with the ability to work quickly with attention to detail. Histotechnology involves five basic steps, each an integral part of the histologist’s job.