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March 30, 1935


JAMA. 1935;104(13):1176. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760130126013

The usefulness of microscopic sections in investigative and clinical work has long clouded the fact that such pictures of cell structures are obtained only after subjecting the tissue to various physical and chemical procedures in order to make them visible. The technical methods of fixation and staining yield beautiful colors and a variety of lines and shades, which are interpreted widely as evidence of what exists in the living cell, healthy or diseased; but this confidence in the reality of observations made by the usual technical methods has been gradually disappearing. The change in attitude has been aided by the results that have been achieved through direct studies of living tissue, made possible by dark field illumination, tissue culture, micro-dissection, micrometabolism, vital staining and other methods.

The defects of the ordinary stained microscopic section have become apparent also with the realization that morphology cannot be divorced from function and that