Microwave-assisted preparation of histological samples has been performed for decades; what began with a few pioneering researchers has now become a routine and accepted practice in many clinical and research laboratories. Reliable, reproducible microwave protocols have been developed for a variety of operations: LM and EM processing, decalcification, fixation, special stains, antigen retrieval and more. Laboratories employing microwave procedures often do so for several compelling reasons: in addition to the expected time savings (often on the scale of orders of magnitude), improved morphology, retained immunoreactivity, and the elimination of hazardous reagents are benefits typically realized as well.
Despite the increasing availability of laboratory microwaves, consumer-grade (“kitchen”) microwaves continue to be used, almost invariably due to cost considerations. (EBS has maintained since 1992 that a kitchen microwave has no place in the lab.) At any time in the US there are hundreds of microwave models to choose from: a dizzying array of sizes, wattages, options, and configurations await the shopper.