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December 1962

Standards of Reference

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology Wayne State University College of Medicine 1401 Rivard St. Detroit

Arch Dermatol. 1962;86(6):707. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590120005001

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One of the most important prerequisites of any type of scientific investigation is a generally accepted standard of reference. As times change and scientific effort becomes more refined, standards must be adjusted. The king's foot as a unit of length was replaced by a fraction of the earth's circumference. This definition had to be changed to a multiple of a certain spectral wave length.

Early microscopists examined teased tissues without the benefit of stains. They described the dermis as a reticulum and the epidermis as the rete mucosum. Technical advances made it possible to cut thin sections and stain them in brilliant colors. The histopathologist's standard of reference thus became the 5μ paraffin section stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Not a bad standard, but certainly not an unchangeable one. Unfortunately, for too many pathologists in general and dermatopathologists in particular, the "hematoxylin and eosin section" has become more than a

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