Transmission electron microscopy

Anthony E. Woods, John W. Stirling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a significant tool in demonstrating the ultrastructure of cells and tissues both in normal and disease states. In particular, TEM can be crucial in the diagnosis of various renal pathologies, the recognition of subcellular structural defects or the deposition of extracellular material (e.g. in cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy, CADASIL) and in the typing of microsporidia. This chapter details the methods used to process and prepare tissue samples appropriately for examination in the transmission electron microscope (EM). The fundamental advantage of TEM over conventional light microscopy (LM) is that the EM has a resolution approximately 1000 times greater. With this increased resolving power, the EM is able to demonstrate the ultrastructure (substructure) of individual cells. Contemporary EMs with digital imaging systems are capable of resolving 0.2 nm (or less): using cryotechniques, this allows cell structures to be examined at the molecular level. However, in practical terms, biological tissues prepared using standard methods cannot be examined at such high resolution due to the limitations of chemical fixation and routine preparation techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBancroft's Theory and Practice of Histological Techniques
EditorsS. Kim Suvarna, Christopher Layton, John D. Bancroft
Number of pages42
ISBN (Electronic)9780702068874
ISBN (Print)9780702068645
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)


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