Stereological tools in biomedical research

An Acad Bras Cienc. 2003 Dec;75(4):469-86. doi: 10.1590/s0001-37652003000400006. Epub 2003 Nov 4.


Stereological studies are more and more frequent in literature, particularly in the development/evolution, pathology, and neurosciences areas. The stereology challenge is to understand the structural inner three-dimensional arrangement based on the analysis of the structure slices only showing two-dimensional information. Cavalieri and Scherle's methods to estimate volume, and Buffon's needle problem, are commented in the stereological context. A group of actions is needed to appropriately quantify morphological structures (unbiased and reproducibly), e.g. sampling, isotropic and uniform randomly sections (Delesse's principle), and updated stereological tools (disector, fractionator, nucleator, etc). Through the correct stereology use, a quantitative study with little effort could be performed: efficiency in stereology means a minimum slices sample counting (little work), low cost (slices preparation), but good accuracy. In the present text, a short review of the main stereological tools is done as a background basis to non-expert scientists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Size
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Photogrammetry / instrumentation
  • Photogrammetry / methods
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Stereotaxic Techniques*