Scanning Microscopy


Analysis of single hair fibres in genetic disorders is a desirable complement to the clinical diagnosis. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) allows detailed study of the surface morphology of hair fibres which may explain some mechanical characteristics of the pathological hair. Quantitative elemental data may indicate biochemical or metabolic abnormalities.

In this preliminary study we assess the feasibility of combining SEM and proton induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis on single hair fibres from 12 cases of genetic disease influencing the integument status. We conclude that SEM is a valuable tool in the analysis of hair pathology. The macro-PIXE technique involves some methodological and technical problems which in many cases are likely to be solved by using a proton microbeam. However, this means that routine methods have to be abandoned and careful selection of the material for analysis is an imperative necessity.

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