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May 1, 2008

Focus-Floating Microscopy for Detecting Borrelia Species in Tissue Sections: Back to Basics

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(5):662-663. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.5.662

Newer and more sophisticated diagnostic techniques are continually being developed, making traditional microscopic evaluation of tissue sections appear rather old fashioned. Even the era of immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and computer-assisted image analysis is being supplanted, for example, by the rise of molecular diagnostics using tissue microarrays or in vivo methods such as confocal scanning laser microscopy.1 It is generally recognized that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques can detect evidence of infection or neoplasia even where none is evident by microscopic methods.2,3 Therefore, it is encouraging to those of us who are life-long microscopists to learn of a new technique that is largely founded on classic histopathologic skills. Such a technique is focus-floating microscopy. In this issue of the Archives, Eisendle et al4 demonstrate the successful use of this method in identifying Borrelia species in tissue sections from patients with lichen sclerosus.