Virtual microscopy-The future of teaching histology in the medical curriculum?

Ann Anat. 2010 Dec 20;192(6):378-82. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2010.09.008. Epub 2010 Oct 25.


Conventional continuing education in microscopic anatomy, histopathology, hematology and microbiology has hitherto been carried out using numerous sets of sectioned tissue specimens in a microscopy laboratory. In comparison, after digitalization of the sections it would be possible to access teaching specimens via virtual microscopy and the internet at any time and place. This would make it possible to put innumerable new learning scenarios into practice. The present article elucidates the advantages of virtual microscopy in histology instruction and presents a concept of how virtual microscopy could be introduced into the teaching of microscopic anatomy in several steps. Initially, the presently existing microscopic teaching specimens would be digitalized and made available on-line without restriction. In a second step, instruction would be shifted to an emphasis on virtual microscopy, utilizing all of the advantages offered by the technique. In a third step, the microscopic contents could be networked with other anatomical, radiological and clinical content on-line, thus opening new learning perspectives for students of human and dental medicine as well as those of medically related courses of study. The advantages and disadvantages of such a concept as well as some possibly arising consequences are discussed in the following.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / trends*
  • Education, Medical / economics
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Education, Medical / trends*
  • Germany
  • Histology / education*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / economics
  • Microscopy / standards
  • Microscopy / trends*
  • Quality Control
  • Teaching / economics
  • Teaching / standards
  • Teaching / trends*
  • User-Computer Interface*