Driving the mineral out faster: Simple modifications of the decalcification technique

Supriya Nikita Kapila, Srikant Natarajan, Karen Boaz, Jay Ashokkumar Pandya, Shanmukha Raviteja Yinti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Quicker decalcification is essential for faster diagnosis of hard tissue pathology. Heat and mechanical agitation are known to hasten decalcification. Aim: To compare the rate of decalcification, cellular and staining characteristics of decalcified specimens of bone and teeth by using the conventional method (10% formal formic acid), heating to 45oC and by physical agitation with magnetic stirrer. Materials and Methods: Weight-matched samples of caprine-origin bone (n=15) and teeth (n=15) were decalcified using three methods namely: a) Gooding and Stewart’s fluid; b) Gooding and Stewart’s fluid heated to 45°C for 6 hours daily; and c) Gooding and Stewart’s fluid agitated using a magnetic stirrer for 6 hours daily. Non-lesional skin tissue samples were placed along with each specimen. End point of decalcification (chemical test) was noted; 4 micron sections were taken and stained with H&E. Statistical analysis: Differences in rate of decalcification and staining characteristics were assessed by Kruskal Wallis test and chi-square test respectively. Results: Hard tissues decalcified faster with stirring and heating methods. The amount of osteocyte retraction noted in bone was significantly reduced in the stirring method. In tooth specimens, modified techniques resulted in poorer nuclear-cytoplasmic contrast of pulp cells. Heating affected the odontoblast layer. Soft tissues exhibited higher eosinophilia in stirring and conventional methods, whereas nuclear-cytoplasmic contrast and chromatin staining was poorest in heating and conventional methods. Conclusion: Physical agitation of decalcifying fluid may be recommended while maintaining satisfactory quality of tissue morphology and staining.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01-09-2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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