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Microscopic examination is an investigation, in which a microscope is used to detect and study micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites).
Microscopic examination plays a role in the demonstration and identification of pathogenic micro-organisms in case of an infectious disease. When it’s known which organism causes the infection, appropriate therapy can be initiated to combat this organism.
The micro-organisms can be identified on the basis of their appearance, structure, colouring pattern and how they move. Sometimes, this can only be seen with specialized, very strongly magnifying microscopes. There are various types of microscopes, such as light microscopes, phase-contrast microscopes, dark field microscopes and electron microscopes.
An obtained tissue sample is spread in an even thin layer on a rectangular piece of glass (a slide). Chemical colouring agents are applied to such a smear. This will cause the bacteria to contrast the background and they can be identified with the aid of a microscope. Another option is to grow a sample first and then to do microscopic examination.
- The compound microscope with two lenses was probably invented around 1595 by the Dutch glass grinder Sacharias Jansen or his father Hans.
- The term ‘microscope’ is derived from the Greek words micros (small) and skopein (watching).