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The 10 Regret of My bright and dark field microscopy Career

bright and dark field microscopy

bright and dark field microscopy at High Magnifications

bright and dark field microscopy at High Magnifications

For more precise work and blacker backgrounds, you may choose a condenser designed especially for darkfield, i.e. to transmit only oblique rays. There are several varieties: “dry” darkfield condensers with air between the top of the condenser and the underside of the slide–and immersion darkfield condensers which require the use of a drop of immersion oil (some are designed to use water instead) establishing contact between the top of the condenser and the underside of the specimen slide. The immersion darkfield condenser has internal mirrored surfaces and passes rays of great obliquity and free of chromatic aberration, producing the best results and blackest background.

Perhaps the most widely used darkfield condenser is the paraboloid, consisting of a solid piece of glass ground very accurately into the shape of a paraboloid, as illustrated in Figure 5(b). Light incident upon the reflecting surface (between the glass and condenser housing in Figure 5(b)) of a paraboloid condenser will be focused at the focal point of the reflector. Most paraboloid condensers are cut to ensure that the focal point is slightly beyond the top of the condenser so that parallel light rays will be focused at a position that maximizes illumination of the specimen. The light stop at the bottom of the glass condenser serves to block central rays from reaching the specimen. Light rays that are reflected by the condenser are angled higher than the critical angle of reflection and converge at the principal focus of the condenser. The combination of a glass slide, mounting medium, and immersion oil (between the condenser and the microscope slide) complete the optical homogeneity of the paraboloid shape.

As discussed above, the dry darkfield condenser is useful for objectives with numerical apertures below 0.75 (Figure 5(a)), while the paraboloid and cardioid immersion condensers (Figures 1 and 5(b)) can be used with objectives of very high numerical aperture (up to 1.4). Objectives with a numerical aperture above 1.2 will require some reduction of their working aperture since their maximum numerical aperture may exceed the numerical aperture of the condenser, thus allowing direct light to enter the objective. For this reason, many high numerical aperture objectives designed for use with darkfield as well as brightfield illumination are made with a built-in adjustable iris diaphragm that acts as an aperture stop. This reduction in numerical aperture also limits the resolving power of the objective as well as the intensity of light in the image. Specialized objectives designed exclusively for darkfield work are produced with a maximum numerical aperture close to the lower limit of the numerical aperture of the darkfield condenser. They do not have internal iris diaphragms, however the lens mount diameters are adjusted so at least one internal lens has the optimum diameter to perform as an aperture stop.

Table 2 lists several properties of the most common reflecting high numerical aperture darkfield condensers. This table should be used as a guide when selecting condenser/objective combinations for use with high numerical aperture darkfield applications.

bright and dark field microscopy

what is bright and dark field microscopy?

what is bright and dark field microscopy

Brightfield microscopy uses light from the lamp source under the microscope stage to illuminate the specimen. This light is gathered in the condenser, then shaped into a cone where the apex is focused on the plane of the specimen. In order to view a specimen under a brightfield microscope, the light rays that pass through it must be changed enough in order to interfere with each other (or contrast) and therefore, build an image. At times, a specimen will have a refractive index very similar to the surrounding medium between the microscope stage and the objective lens. When this happens, the image can not be seen. In order to visualize these biological materials well, they must have a contrast caused by the proper refractive indices, or be artificially stained. Since staining can kill specimens, there are times when darkfield microscopy is used instead.

In darkfield microscopy the condenser is designed to form a hollow cone of light (see illustration below), as apposed to brightfield microscopy that illuminates the sample with a full cone of light. In darkfield microscopy, the objective lens sits in the dark hollow of this cone and light travels around the objective lens, but does not enter the cone shaped area. The entire field of view appears dark when there is no sample on the microscope stage. However, when a sample is placed on the stage it appears bright against a dark background. It is similar to back-lighting an object that may be the same color as the background it sits against – in order to make it stand out.

Darkfield microscopy light image
Illustration provided courtesy of Washington State University.

Darkfield Microscope Applications

Viewing blood cells (biological darkfield microscope, combined with phase contrast)
Viewing bacteria (biological darkfield microscope, often combined with phase contrast)
Viewing different types of algae (biological darkfield microscope)
Viewing hairline metal fractures (metallurgical darkfield microscope)
Viewing diamonds and other precious stones (gemological microscope or stereo darkfield microscope)
Viewing shrimp or other invertebrates (stereo darkfield microscope)

Darkfield Microscope Options

Metallurigcal reflected light brightfield/darkfield microscope.
Metallurgical reflected and transmitted light brightfield/darkfield microscope.
Stereo microscope 420 with darkfield attachment.
Stereo Zoom SMZ-168 microscope with darkfield attachment.
Biological laboratory phase contrast microscope with darkfield for up to 40x.
Biological laboratory microscope BA210 with darkfield slider.
Biological student microscope 162 with darkfield attachment.

Already have a microscope, but your microscope manufacturer does not make a darkfield stop? If there is a filter holder below your condenser, a darkfield stop we carry may work. Or you can mount a coin or circle of another opaque material in the center of a clear disk and put it in the filter holder.

bright and dark field microscopy

What Different dark field from conventional microscopy?

What Different dark field from conventional microscopy?

In conventional bright field illumination, your specimen is lit from a central light source (you can read more about bright field microscopy in this Bitesize Bio article). This results in a large contrast image. However, in bright and dark field microscopy this light source is blocked by a condenser or a ‘stop’ below the stage. This condenser or stop scatters the light allowing only oblique rays to reflect and refract off your specimen which in turn creates a bright image on a dark background.

bright and dark field microscopy

Nailfold Capillaroscopy Excludes Scleroderma in Raynaud’s

Nailfold Capillaroscopy Excludes Scleroderma in Raynaud’s

he absence of a systemic sclerosis (SSc) nailfold pattern in patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon or suspected connective tissue disease is of high clinical value as a biomarker to rule out SSc, according to a large cohort study from the U.K.

For identifying patients who met the 2013 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism or the Very Early Diagnosis of Systemic Sclerosis (VEDOSS) criteria for SSc, the study found that a nailfold capillaroscopy pattern had a negative predictive value of 90% (95% CI 86 to 93), according to Maya H. Buch, MBChB, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Leeds, writing in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

That pattern also had a sensitivity of 71% (95% CI 61 to 80), a specificity of 95% (95% CI 91 to 97), and a positive predictive value of 84% (95% CI 74 to 91).

“We were very impressed with nailfold capillaroscopy’s utility in negative prediction,” Buch said in an interview with MedPage Today. “The most valuable result here is the low likelihood of scleroderma in patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon who do not have any scleroderma-specific features on nailfold capillaroscopy. In practice, this means we can more confidently reassure such a patient and discharge care back to the patient’s general practitioner.”

The researchers noted that to the best of their knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the absence of any SSc pattern on nailfold capillaroscopy maintains its known negative predictive value, including for patients with secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon, who are considered at increased risk of SSc. “This study is only one of two to include a large unselected cohort of patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon — mirroring clinical practice in which rheumatology departments frequently receive referrals of patients with Raynaud’s from GPs,” Buch said.

Primary Raynaud’s phenomenon is associated with normal microcirculation architecture, whereas microangiopathies are associated with secondary Raynaud’s, she explained. The SSc nailfold capillaroscopy pattern correlates with disease duration and severity, and also predicts future vascular and visceral organ damage. Nailfold capillaroscopy also detects vascular problems in glaucoma.

Although an SSc nailfold capillaroscopy pattern is sometimes present in other connective tissue diseases, “nailfold capillaroscopy could be performed to provide reassurance to the rheumatologist in the assessment of both [primary and secondary] Raynaud’s phenomenon,” the researchers wrote.

Buch and colleagues studied 347 patients referred for nailfold capillaroscopy to a tertiary-care center from January 2009 to October 2013. The mean age of the cohort was 47 years and 83% were female. Clinical review showed that 54 patients (16%) did not have true Raynaud’s phenomenon, 69 (20%) had primary Raynaud’s, 172 (50%) had secondary Raynaud’s, and 52 (15%) had SSc.

At referral, 46 patients (89%) met either VEDOSS or the 2013 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism (ACR/EULAR) criteria for SSc. Of the patients with secondary Raynaud’s, 71 (41%) were being managed for connective tissue disease or inflammatory arthritis, while 101 (59%) had an antibody and/or a red-flag feature for SSc.

A nailfold capillaroscopy pattern for SSc was detected in 80 patients (23%) — 43 with early, 31 with active, and six with late-pattern vasculopathy. This pattern was observed in 37 patients (71%) diagnosed with SSc, 30 (17%) with secondary Raynaud’s, nine (13%) with primary Raynaud’s, and four (7%) without Raynaud’s.

Considering only those patients with non-SSc connective tissue disease or inflammatory arthritis, 16 of 71 patients (23%) had an SSc pattern. This was detected in two of five patients with SLE, eight of 42 with undifferentiated connective tissue disease, four of six with mixed connective tissue disease, one of three with Sjogren’s syndrome, and one of 14 with inflammatory arthritis.

Interestingly, the team said, participants meeting ACR/EULAR criteria were more likely to have an SSc nailfold capillaroscopy pattern than those meeting the VEDOSS criteria were: 84% versus 42%, respectively. “This may be related to the earlier stage of disease in those meeting VEDOSS with less time for detectable vasculopathic changes at the nailfold to develop,” the researchers wrote. “These findings are important as the earlier detection and management of SSc may lead to reduced morbidity and earlier detection of its complications.”

Among the study limitations were the lack of formal measurements to determine enlarged capillaries and the use of two different nailfold capillaroscopy methods, which might have introduced bias. As in clinical practice, the examiners were not blinded to the clinical diagnosis, possibly introducing investigator bias. In addition, the retrospective analysis may have missed important data, particularly the presence of telangiectasia.

The authors cited the need for larger, more defined prospective studies of a heterogeneous group of Raynaud’s patients. Buch noted that the current study is part of a larger Leeds program to identify biomarkers for accurately identifying patients at risk for scleroderma or those with scleroderma at risk for poorer outcomes.

bright and dark field microscopy

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