Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dots 'n' Spots

Am pretty stoked that I'm actually able to recognize some things under the microscope. Part of our training includes the ability to diagnose skin disease based on tissue patterns under a microscope (pathology), and it's an entirely different beast than clinical medicine. Things are pink, purple, and blue, and shades of the above, and sizes range from small to smaller (see picture at right)... Am happy to report that I am now able to tell the difference between some of the little dots from other little dots, which is probably expected given that we are ONE MONTH into training (woohoo!)

Looking into a microscope, for those lucky souls who have never had to do it, is something else. You know how, at the doctor's office, they'll check your eyes with that light that they hold in their hand? And you know how it's uncomfortable to have that light shining in your eyeball for too long? Well, imagine sitting for an afternoon with a light shining into each eyeball - that, my friends, is what some people do for a living...

On the theme of pattern recognition, here's the picture of the day: You're right, it's water lilies, and from where else but the beautiful the island of O'ahu. Too bad dermatopathology isn't so easy... :)


Anonymous Dr Dan H. said...

Just a trick for if you wear glasses and have a lot of microscope work to do: get a pair of lenses made up that have markings on the rim of each at the top, so you can tell where the top is and which lens is which.

Then put one on the top of each eyepiece, instead of wearing glasses. This is much more comfortable than worn spectacles, and because you don't blink very much, it is also much more comfortable than contact lenses.

The other trick is to adjust your chair so it is at the right height for the 'scope, and do everything else you can to make working comfortable.

For a cooled light source, you have two choices: expensive or cheap.

Expensive is a fibre-optic lamp or an array of LEDs.

Cheap is a bog-standard tungsten lamp, shining through a round-bottomed flask full of cold water. This has the advantage that lecturers don't pull rank and nick it for ever-so-important practicals, etc.

Finally, how to find small things on a mostly-empty slide.

Open the iris on the condenser as wide as it'll go, then stick either your little finger or your ring finger directly under the light source, so it mostly blocks the light but some gets round the side (this trick courtesy of Dr Peter Evenett of Leeds Uni).

Hey presto, cheapjack dark field illumination. Small isolated things that are rare are much easier to find as light dots against a dark background.

3:57 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

Thanks for the tips! :)

3:12 PM  

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