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What is Histology?

 is the study of tissues and organ systems through the examination of the microanatomical organisation of tissues and organs and the relationship between the structure and function of the different types of cells and tissue types.

The word "Histology" is made up of two parts: 'histos' which is Greek for 'tissue' and 'logia' or the suffix '-ology' which means 'the science of...' or 'the study of...'.

Histological techniques provide a visual means for the examination and analysis of cellular and tissue physiology and morphology.

Tissue samples usually arrive at the laboratory in a fixative solution to prevent decomposition of the tissue, and to preserve the tissue in as lifelike a manner as possible.

The specimens are then processed into paraffin wax blocks and thin slices or sections are cut and stained with a routine histological stain (H&E stain) for microscopical examination.

Further special staining techniques may be performed to identify a specific tissue component not readily seen in the H&E stained section.One such example would be the detection of carbohydrates by the Periodic Acid Schiff or PAS reaction. Other specialised techniques such as immunocytochemistry may be used to detect proteins (antigens) in tissues.

Visit this webpage sponsored by Leica Biosystems for more information on specimen processing.