Lapis ISSN 2398-2969
Staining technique: Romanowsky stains - overview
Contributor(s): Molly Varga, Sarah Pellett
- The choice of stain used is dependent on availability of equipment and staining solution in practice, the experience and preference of the clinician.
- Stains can be either applied manually with the aid of cuvettes, or mechanically in automated staining systems.
- Romanowsky stains are neutral stains composed of a mixture of oxidized methylene blue (azure) dyes and eosin Y.
- Romanowsky staining is the prototypical cytological staining method. Changes in the methodology have lead to the evolution of other linked staining methods.
- Romanowsky stains include Wright's, Giemsa, Wright-Giemsa, May-Grunwald-Giemsa and Diff-Quik.
- Buffer is essential to enable the dyes to precipitate out of the solution and bind to sample material.
- The azures are basic dyes that bind acid nuclei and result in a blue to purple color.
- The eosines are acidic dyes that are attracted to the alkaline cytoplasm, producing red coloration.
- They generally provide excellent nuclear detail and also clear differentiation of the cytoplasm.
- The alcohol based 'fast' staining kits such as Diff-Quik are readily available and commonly used in practice.
- Bone marrow examination.
- Blood films.
- Stain cells to identify abnormalities in morphology and pathological changes.
- Easy to prepare.
- Readily available.
- Nuclear and nucleolar detail not as defined as Papanicolaou stain. Is adequate to distinguish neoplasia from inflammation.
- pH sensitive - buffer essential.
- Can get variation in coloration with a change in staining times and pH.
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