Ventana Came to Visit.

14 04 2010

Ventana Symphony H&E Discreet Slide Stainer

Our department here at Albany Medical Center has been searching for a cover-slipping solution for some time now.  Their searching brought them to the Ventana Symphony H&E Discreet Slide Stainer.  I saw the Symphony demo-ed at the USCAP meeting last year and was quite impressed, so I was excited about the possibility of the piece of equipment being brought into our lab.

This morning,  Ventana set up a small in-service for us which included a presentation on digital pathology from Drazen Jukic from UPMC, followed by a virtual demo of the Symphony, followed by a Q&A session.

Dr. Jukic’s presentation was spectacular.  He outlined the pros and cons of digital pathology from WSI to bar-coding, and discussed the real-world impact of such technologies on the day-to-day work-flow at UPMC  (I must try to track down a copy of his ppt).  I think it was really important for the AMC staff to hear, as we lag behind many other institutions in this area- whether it be due to lack of knowledge on the subject, budgetary constraints or individual resistance to the adoption of new technologies.  Hopefully the talk opened some minds to the amazing possibilities out there today, and planted some seeds re: the possibilities to come in the near future.

The first talk was followed up by sales pitch and question and answer session from Ventana about their Symphony stainer.  It was a flash-based demo that let the audience look inside a 3D rendered machine.  The presenter did a fine job answering the numerous questions we peppered him with.  Interestingly, Ventana brought at least 5 employees to the talk; I’m not sure if there was training going on, or if it was just a show of moral support.  But overall it was a good presentation.

Something that I hadn’t heard of before is the machine’s ability to have different H&E staining profiles.  For example, Dr. Jukic, in his talk, showed how different reagent times, etc yielded a wide variety of H&E staining results: one profile that he showed us accentuated dermal mucin, another drastically increased detail in cancer nuclei.  While the slides were still just H&E-stained, the contrast and color intensity were quite different.

The stainer looks like a solid addition to any histology lab, and it also appears to be able to be upgradeable in-place in the future.  The major draw-back that I saw was daily through-put.  AMC currently outputs around 50,000 surgical and derm cases per year, which is at the very cusp of the Symphony’s output capabilities, and that is assuming 100% up-time; therefore, more than likely, we would require two to handle our current load and enable future expansion, and I’m not sure the lab was planning on that in their budget (Ventana: how about a buy-one-get-one program?).

A question for you: is there anyone out there that is currently using the Ventana Symphony Discreet H&E Slide Stainer?  Love it?  Hate it?  Please sound off below.

Thanks again to Ventana and Dr. Jukic for a lively morning.

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One response

23 04 2014
John L

The Ventana Symphony is just awful. I assume they can get away with it because there isn’t much competition. First off they use a coverslip glue which takes days to dry. So initially when the slides were filed within the day of review, all the slides would stick together. We would usually have to wait a week for slides to dry in trays before filing them. This was a major inconvenience if one had to look at a case they had seen a few days ago, going through trays and trays. Now we figured out that baking the slides wouldwould make the glue dry faster, but this is just ridiculous if Ventana is billing the Symphony as something that is completely automated and makes your life easier! Secondly we’ve been having major issues with the quality of H&Es. Initially the quality of H&E staining was OK, with the exception that some of the profiles at the edge of the slide was stained oddly, most likely due to the slide holders not being entirely flat or maybe not enough staining reagent being dispensed etc. However soon after all H&Es were universally bad regardless of where the profile was on the slide. Especially for GI small biopsies. We went weeks with having suboptimal dull purple, burnt-toast staining while trying to trouble shoot. Even now the H&E stains weren’t as good as they initially were on the Symphony. Thirdly, now we’re having issues with excess coverslip glue ending on on top of the coverslip. With dust particles sticking to this glue, though interpretable, it just makes the slide look messy. The Ventana Symphony is BADLY engineered and BADLY thought out. A TERRIBLE TERRIBLE platform that makes processing of H&Es easier but at BAD COSTS.

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