One of the primary goals of fixation is to stop postmortem changes that degrade the tissue and allow optimal preservation of morphologic and cytological detail as well as nucleic acid integrity. Following death, tissues soon undergo autolysis, and if organisms from the gastrointestinal, urinary, or respiratory tracts are present, their colonization can soon cause putrefaction. Time is of the essence because warmer temperatures accelerate both types of degradation. Placing the tissue into a fixative stops the postmortem changes. Fixatives have their effect on tissue by cross-linking, coagulation, or a combination of both. This article outlines the basic tissue fixation procedure and offers guidance on choosing an appropriate fixative, the timing and duration of fixation, sample storage, and quality issues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)