I have propagated the tamper’s use in my articles, workshops, and the embedding station when I helped the histotech in embedding the sections correctly. The standard tamper had two negative sides: the handle was to short and the flattening surface was to small to achieve flat even surface.
HistoPress substantially improved the handle problem. The tamper is much more manageable.
The unevenness of the sample does not matter significantly in a case of a large section (liver, kidney, placenta, etc.), but in multiple sections (curettage, suctions, bone marrow scarce aspirates, etc) and small multiple biopsy samples (gastric, colon, needle biopsies) the unevenness might have diagnostic consequences. Although pressing with a forceps somehow partially solves the problem, it requires more time that is not available during embedding that is always a race against time and consolidating paraffin or other media.
The unevenness of flatting can be solved with a modification. This modification can make the tamper universal.
The proposal of Rocking Tamper
Since times of ink pens and later fountain pens a rocking blotter was an obligatory feature on desks. It is semi-circular and it has a knob on the flat part that is hold by a hand. The rolling part holds a strip of blotting paper. You rock the blotter, which rocks the strip of blotting paper over the writing.
My proposal is to change the flat rectangle or round flattening part for a semicircular roller of certain radius.
The drawing provides the principle of the device. It gives a general approach. Although a standard rocking blotter would be also understandable and, perhaps a knob like handle would be preferable for large specimens, a notch in the handle for forceps would benefit small rocking tamper for biopsies, for example prostate needle biopsy, when the flat surface is a methodological requirement. The notch would allow the embedding person to manipulate by using the forceps without interruption that would safe time and assure better quality of flattening.
Of course, the handle and the curve of the radius should be found experimentally, as well as appropriate material.
The Rocking Tamper can be used additionally to already manufactured by Sakura Fineteck as a device of choice predominately for multiple sections and biopsies when the flatting requires more precise application of the tamper. The rocking mode allows the embedding person to apply pressure more forcibly and faster than with a conventional tamper. This rocking tamper can be very beneficial also for embedding extra large section (bone, brain, etc.) which are used in research.
Every new approach requires time to be used. The departure from conventional habit is not easy, but it makes sense to try.
This proposal has been offered to HISTONIX. This company manufactures modified tampers (HistoPres) with a handle. Cliff Jones, Histonix’s CEO, sent me an e-mail that his company has a pending patent without specifying the number and description. I could not find in Claims/US Patents any similar.