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The use of fixative solutions throughout the ages: a comprehensive review

ABSTRACT: Preservation of biological tissue is performed by using different fixative solutions. This fact had fundamental contribution on the history and scientific development of anatomy. The history of fixative solutions can be divided in three important moments: the first one is connected to the Old Egypt; the second, to the Renascence period; and the third period occurred during the American Civil War. Several solutions were tested and used throughout history and they adapted to the needs and contexts of each time. Currently, the main fixative solutions are toxic and some of them carcinogenic, including the formaldehyde, which remains as a “gold standard”. The fixative solutions are well adapted for histology laboratories, where their vapors are easily removed. On the other hand, in gross anatomy labs where usually not enough exhaustion exists, the exposure to toxic components is higher. Therefore, the necessity for better, more effective and safe solutions increased the interest for studying and several researchers have been engaged to develop a better fixative solution. This works brings a review of the historic progress of tissue fixation techniques for research and didactic purposes.

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