Stereological estimation of the volume-weighted mean volume of arbitrary particles observed on random sections

J Microsc. 1985 May;138(Pt 2):127-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.1985.tb02607.x.


A stereological estimator of the weighted mean volume of particles of arbitrary shape is described. This unbiased estimator is based on simple point-sampling of linear intercept lengths. The complete absence of shape assumptions effectively breaks the long-standing 'convexity-barrier': the only requirement here is that individual particles can be unambiguously identified by their profiles on random sections. Practical details of the simple estimation procedure and an example with very irregular particles are reported. Finally, an estimator of the variance of the weighted distribution of particle volume is discussed. This estimator is also valid for particles of arbitrary shape. For any mixture of ellipsoids (spheres, oblates, prolates and triaxial ellipsoids) the estimator is reduced to a simple function of measurements of diameters in the section plane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Kidney Glomerulus / cytology
  • Mathematics
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Models, Biological
  • Rats
  • Weights and Measures