Microscopic anatomy, also known as histology, is the study of cells and tissues of animals, humans, and plants. These subjects are too small to see without a microscope.
Through microscopic anatomy, people can learn about the structure of cells and how they relate to each other.
For example, if a person has cancer, examining the tissue under the microscope will reveal how the cancerous cells are acting and how they affect healthy tissue.
A researcher may apply histological techniques such as sectioning and staining to tissues and cells. They may then examine them under an electron or light microscope.
Sectioning involves cutting tissue into very thin slices for close examination.
The aim of staining tissues and cells is to add or enhance color. This makes it easier to identify the specific tissues under investigation.
Histology is vital for the understanding and advancement of medicine, veterinary medicine, biology, and other aspects of life science.
Scientists use histology for:
In teaching labs, histology slides can help students learn about the microstructures of biological tissues.
Doctors take tissue samples, or biopsies, from people who may have cancer or other illnesses and send the samples to a lab, where a histologist can analyze them.
If a person dies unexpectedly, the microscopic study of specific biological tissues can help experts discover the cause.
As in forensic investigations, experts study tissues from deceased people and animals to understand the causes of death.
Biological samples from archeological sites can provide useful data about what was happening thousands of years ago.