Detection and identification of viruses by electron microscopy

J Electron Microsc Tech. 1986;4(3):265-301. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1060040305. Epub 2005 Feb 4.


Electron microscopy can aid in the rapid diagnosis of viral diseases, as it can be performed in a matter of hours, but on a routine basis it should be used in conjunction with other techniques. Initially, the specimen source and patient symptoms should be ascertained, as these will lend suggestions of possible agents while eliminating others; however, this information should not be allowed to prejudice observation in such a way as to cause oversight of an unlikely pathogen. Second, selection of the method of preparation should be based on sample consistency; extraction, debris clarification, concentration, tissue culture amplification, or embedment may be necessary. Finally, false-positive results must be avoided by differentiating viruses from cell organelles or debris, mycoplasmal or bacterial contamination, and bacteriophages.

Keywords: Clinical electron microscopy; Clinical virology; Diagnostic virology; EM techniques; Virus identification; Virus morphology.