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  • Mandy Lee

Histology and Its Significance

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Edited by Season Wang.


What makes histology so important?


Have you ever wondered how pathologists knew precisely where to slice a cancerous tissue removed surgically from a patient? Or how do epidemiologists get information on how to treat certain diseases in a tissue? Luckily, the study of anatomy and physiology, otherwise known as histology, has made significant contributions to these findings from a little microscopic slide.


Introducing histology.


According to an article published by Helmenstine A. (2019), histology was derived from the Greek word “histos,” which translates to tissues and “logia,” which means study. Histology is the scientific study of the microscopic structure of cells and tissues, with the first appearance of the word in an 1819 book written by German anatomist and physiologist Karl Meyer.¹


How does histology work?


Helmenstine A. wrote in a paper published by ThoughtCo. (2019), the courses in histology focus on the preparation of slides, which significantly relies on the previous mastery of anatomy and physiology. It does not mainly focus on light and electron microscopy, as that is taught separately.¹


The five steps of histology are:

  1. Fixing - preventing the decay and degradation of cells and tissues

  2. Processing - tissues are averted from being altered too much when embedded

  3. Embedding - placing a sample in paraffin or plastic for it to be thinly sectioned

  4. Sectioning - a microtome is used to section the sample into a thin sheet before being placed on a slide

  5. Staining - to enhance the appearance of specific structures


What is the aim of Anatomy and Physiology?


This aids in understanding how our bodies are structured and connected to one another, giving us life. More specifically, anatomy’s primary focus is to comprehend the multiple systems that exist within the human body. In contrast, Nguyen D. (2019) found that physiology taps into maintaining homeostasis (a process of ensuring the optimal levels of nutrients, energy, and temperature.)²


How to study histology?


If you are a visual learner, you’re in luck! In an article by Nguyen D. (2019), he found that histology is regarded as a visual study, requiring constant reference to diagrams, pictures, and illustrations to study this field. In this modern era of technology, there are a handful of websites that compile thousands of images to ease the understanding and study.2 A great way of learning the images would be to test yourself with the diagrams you stumbled upon to fully embed them in your head until they reveal themselves in your subconscious mind.


What are the uses of histology?


As we are well familiar with the context behind histology, we can safely assure ourselves that it is essential in the field of science, such as in applied science, medicine, etc.


  1. It teaches biologists, medical students, and veterinary students to recognize the many types of tissues. On top of that, histology helps show what happens to tissues at a cellular level.

  2. It helps archaeologists to study biological material scavenged from archaeological sites, for example, bones and teeth.

  3. It diagnoses diseases in living organisms and analyzes the effects of treatment.

  4. It is used for autopsies during forensic investigations of unexplainable deaths. The cause of death arises through microscopic tissue examination.¹


What career paths does histology offer?


A histologist prepares tissues by referring to the five steps previously mentioned. They usually work in labs and have highly refined skills used to produce microscopic slides. These include biomedical scientists, medical technicians, histology technicians, and technologists.


Medical doctors who examine these slides are called pathologists. They specialize in identifying cells and tissues that grow abnormally. These prominent figures in the medical field can identify many conditions and diseases for other doctors to come up with a treatment plan or determine whether an abnormality caused the death.


The person who studies diseased tissue is known as a histopathologist. This career requires a medical degree or a doctorate. Hence many of them have dual degrees.¹


In conclusion, histology is pretty awesome!


According to an article by Snider L. (2019), even though histology focuses on tiny structures, it can be groundbreaking in the medical field. The greatest invention — the microscope — provided scientists with new methods of studying living organisms. This ultimately leads to significant advancements in healthcare and the natural world. Who knows, the understanding of tissues can even lead us to find a cure for cancer in living patients.


So, if someone were to come up to you and ask about histology, you can safely say that it's about the study of body tissues and an important diagnostic tool!³


 

Reference:

  1. Helmenstine, A. (2019). What Histology Is and How It's Used. [online] ThoughtCo. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/histology-definition-and-introduction.

  2. Nguyen, D. (2019). Why Is the Study of Histology Important in Your Overall Understanding of Anatomy & Physiology? [online] Sciencing. Available at: https://sciencing.com/study-histology-important-overall-understanding-anatomy-physiology-23515.html.

  3. Snider, L. (2019). Staining the Small Stuff: Why Histology is Awesome. [online] Visible Body. Available at: https://www.visiblebody.com/blog/staining-the-small-stuff-why-histology-is-awesome.



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