Morphometric applications in anatomic pathology

Hum Pathol. 1996 May;27(5):450-67. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(96)90089-1.


The components of the cell and tissue changes in many diseases are variable and can therefore be quantified. Characterization of these quantitative changes provides data that is useful not only for making a definitive, cell- and tissue-based diagnosis of disease, but also for predicting the course of disease. The spectrum of changes found in malignant tumors, ie, cell grade, architecture, cellularity, extent of invasion, nature and extent of inflammatory reaction, exemplify this range of quantifiable features. The diagnosis and prognosis of nonneoplastic diseases, ie, myopathy and metabolic bone disease, can also be determined by quantitating tissue changes. Morphometry is the quantification of changes in the "objects" of tissues, ie, cells and organelles, and their organization, using quantitative evaluation tools. The principles of morphometry have been known for a century. With the increasing availability of affordable, powerful computer systems and increasingly flexible and user-friendly software has come easier ability to measure these changes. This article discusses the principles of morphometry with illustrations of types of analysis (ie, area fraction, object counting, shape and size analyses, and mutliparametric analyses) using examples of these applications with discussions of error sources and limitations of morphometry.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Size
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pathology / methods*