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Microscopes and Mice! (Necropsy Process)

Microscopes and Mice! (Necropsy Process)

Performing a necropsy on a mouse involves the careful examination of its tissues and organs post-mortem to determine the cause of death or to study any existing diseases or conditions. Using a microscope during the necropsy process allows for detailed examination of tissue samples at a cellular level. Here's a step-by-step description of how a microscope is used in the mouse necropsy process:

1. Collection and Fixation of Tissues: After euthanizing the mouse according to ethical and regulatory guidelines, the necropsy begins. Tissue samples of interest are collected, such as the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and any other organs that might be relevant to the study or investigation. These tissue samples are then carefully fixed using appropriate fixatives to preserve their cellular structure and prevent decay.

2. Processing and Embedding: The fixed tissue samples are dehydrated using a series of alcohol solutions and then embedded in a solid medium, often paraffin wax. This embedding process provides support to the tissue and allows for thin sectioning. The tissue is placed in molds with liquid wax, which solidifies as it cools.

3. Sectioning: The embedded tissue block is trimmed to expose the area of interest and then cut into thin sections using a microtome. These sections are usually about 5-10 micrometers thick. The sections are floated onto water and carefully picked up onto glass microscope slides.

4. Staining: Before microscopic examination, the tissue sections need to be stained to enhance the visibility of cellular structures. Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining is a common method that imparts color to nuclei (hematoxylin) and cytoplasm (eosin), allowing for differentiation of tissue components.

5. Microscopic Examination: The stained tissue sections are placed on a microscope stage. A compound light microscope with varying magnification options is used to examine the tissue samples. Lower magnifications give an overview of tissue architecture, while higher magnifications allow for detailed examination of cellular structures. Pathologists or researchers look for abnormalities such as cell changes, inflammation, tumor growth, and other signs of diseases.

6. Documentation and Analysis: During microscopic examination, observations are documented either through written notes or digital images captured by attaching a camera to the microscope. The pathologist or researcher analyzes the tissue sections, identifies any abnormalities, and compares them to known disease patterns or normal tissue structures.

7. Interpretation: Based on the observations made under the microscope, the pathologist or researcher interprets the findings. This interpretation contributes to the final diagnosis or research conclusions. For example, in a research setting, the microscopic examination might provide insights into disease mechanisms or the effects of experimental treatments.

8. Reporting: If the necropsy is part of a diagnostic process, the pathologist compiles a detailed report summarizing the findings. This report is communicated to the relevant parties, such as veterinarians, researchers, or regulatory authorities, depending on the purpose of the necropsy.

Using a microscope during the mouse necropsy process is essential for gaining insights into tissue and cellular structures, which can lead to a better understanding of diseases, conditions, and experimental outcomes.

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