Scanning Microscopy


The present paper states very briefly the main steps leading to the technique of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of vascular corrosion casts. From the terms presently used (injection method, microcorrosion cast, injection replica, vascular corrosion cast, vascular cast) the use of "vascular corrosion cast" for lymphatic and blood vessels is recommended. Specification and pretreatment (kind, volume, dosage of anticoagulants, vasoactive substances and spasmolytica used) of the animals examined are referenced as they are available from the literature. The recommendation is given to pay more attention to these parameters than done so far. The steps necessary for producing reasonable and suitable vascular corrosion casts are critically described. Special attention is paid to the physical and chemical properties of the casting media and their significance for polymerization, shrinkage, casting quality, corrosion resistance, and thermal and spatial stability. Emphasis is also focused on the advantages of cutting the vascular corrosion casts embedded in an ice block by a band saw, a self constructed multi-blade cutting device or a mini wheel-saw placed in the chamber of a cryomicrotome. From the drying methods presently used freeze-drying is stressed because of minimal specimen damage. To render casts conductive in most cases sputter-coating is sufficient. It is recommended to run the SEM with 5 - 10 kV since the resolution received still reveals all details the casting media presently can replicate. Further the application of scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts in fully differentiated normal tissue, in pathologic tissue as well as in developing tissues and organs is stated. Lastly possibilities and conditions are discussed under which SEM of vascular corrosion casts can serve to quantify vascular structures in order to make the technique more than pure descriptive.

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