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What is Microscopy?

closeup photo of a microscope lenses | miscroscopyNot just for science classrooms anymore, microscopes are used in a variety of medical settings for diagnostic purposes. Microscopy has even become an integrated part of endoscopic exams routinely performed by gastroenterologists. Read on to learn more about how real-time microscopic exams have advanced the field of gastroenterology for patients and practitioners alike.

What is microscopy?

Microscopy generally refers to the use of magnifying devices in order to examine objects otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Although the first microscopes were invented more than 400 years ago, the full range of their use continues to evolve even today. The simplest microscopes resemble small telescopes with mirrors positioned between two curved lenses. With more advanced devices, such as the scanning electron microscope, smaller and smaller objects have become visible with ever greater clarity.

How is microscopy used in gastroenterology?

Endoscopy is a method routinely used in the monitoring and treatment of upper and lower gastrointestinal conditions. Standard endoscopy provides a minimally invasive means of visualizing the anatomy and tissues of the digestive tract with only slight magnification of these structures. Tissue samples taken during endoscopy are later analyzed with a microscope in order to confirm any suspected diagnoses. This diagnosis via microscopy is referred to as the histopathological diagnosis and is considered the “gold standard” for determining the presence or absence of many conditions, including those afflicting the digestive tract.

The use of microscopy has now been integrated into many endoscopic devices, allowing real-time analysis of tissues and diagnosis of conditions. Joint use of microscopic imaging in endoscopy is referred to as endomicroscopy. Some methods of endomicroscopy make use of special dyes or lights to help make diagnoses, similar to techniques that can be used in standard microscopy methods.

What are the advantages of endomicroscopy?

The greatest advantage of endomicroscopy is the ability to perform corrective procedures on tissue lesions diagnosed during endoscopy without any added discomfort to the patient. This can significantly reduce the amount of time and number of office visits required for a patient to receive the full range of treatment required for a particular condition. The reduced period of time between detection and treatment can also offer patients and physicians greater peace of mind knowing that the most appropriate treatment techniques for a specific patient’s needs were employed as quickly as possible.

In some cases, endomicroscopy is augmented by standard microscopy as this can allow for some specific diagnostic testing that is not possible in vivo during endoscopy. The capability of gastroenterologists to use both real-time and standard microscopic methods provides the practitioner with a powerful arsenal of diagnostic and therapeutic options that can be tailored to each patient’s particular condition as it is uncovered.

Who performs microscopy?

While this article is intended to be informative, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have questions or concerns regarding the diagnosis or treatment of gastrointestinal conditions using microscopy or any other methods, please contact a qualified healthcare professional near you.

Consider turning to GI North for your gastrointestinal healthcare needs. GI North uses both time-tested and cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to treat a wide-range of health conditions affecting the digestive tract. The GI North team is led by Drs. Cofrancesco and Quijano. For appointments in Spanish, please request Dr. Quijano.

GI North is located in Cumming, GA and also serves the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Buford, Duluth, Mountain Park, Norcross, Gainesville, Canton and Lilburn. Find out today how GI North can help you on your way to greater gastrointestinal health and wellness.

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