VM8054 Veterinary Histology

Preface To Laboratory Manual

World Wide Web Version 5.0

©Copyright 1995-2006

Thomas Caceci, PhD
Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology
Virginia/Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Sir Jabez Hogg (left) taking a photograph of an unknown subject

The manifold uses and advantages of the Microscope crowd upon us in such profusion that we can only attempt to enumerate them in the briefest and most rapid manner...It is not many years since this invaluable instrument was regarded in the light of a costly toy; it is now the inseparable companion of...science. In the medical world, its utility and necessity are fully appreciated...knowledge which could not be obtained even by the minutest dissection is acquired readily by its assistance, which has become as essential to the anatomist and the pathologist as the scalpel and bedside observation. The smallest portion of a diseased structure, placed under a Microscope, will tell more in one minute...than could be ascertained by long examination of...disease in the ordinary method.

—Jabez Hogg, F.L.S., F.R.M.S. The Microscope: Its History, Construction, and Application: Being a Familiar Introduction to the Use of the Instrument, and the Study of Microscopical Science (First Edition, 1854)

This is the latest in a series of lab manuals that began in 1982. I'm immensely pleased to be able to include in this version some very beautiful line drawings and color illustrations by my colleague Professor Dr. Samir El-Shafey, a member of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Cairo University in Giza, Egypt. Dr. El-Shafey spent several months at Virginia Tech in late 2001, and produced these drawings as part of his sabbatical period work. They add greatly to this manual and I hope to convince him to provide even more for future versions.

This version includes many new images, and many more interactive images, than has been the case in previous editions. Its size is such that it requires two CD's to hold it all. Whether this is due to increased quality, or merely quantity, I'm unable to assess: I'll leave that to the user.

"Electronic textbooks" are clearly the wave of the future in veterinary education. Five paper based versions of this manual were produced at the VMRCVM between 1987 and 1994, derived from some much earlier notes made up when I was teaching at Texas A&M. The first version designed to be used with a World Wide Web browser was made available in 1995, when it was distributed to the VMRCVM Class of 2000 and placed on the VMRCVM's server.

Version 2.0 was completed in July 1999, and subsequent versions have been modifications of that one. Each revision has added a few additional illustrations and accompanying text. Of course, just exactly what constitutes "complete" is a matter of opinion. I never suspected when I started this project some years ago that it would eventually come to dominate my professional activities for the forseeable future. I suppose it will never be "completed"; I'll always be dissatisfied with something in it, or find some new image that just has to be included. So perhaps the best way to say it is that previous versions have been revised to make this one....which is and will remain a work in progress.

I make no pretense that this CD is comprehensive. It's intended as a lab manual, to be used as a supplement to a good textbook, and I will expect my students to use other sources to make up for its shortcomings. It's specifically directed to the students in my course as it's currently taught, though of course it has utility to anyone interested in the subject. What it provides to them is a set of images taken from their own sets of slides and my demonstrations. For students using it in VM 8054, my intention has been that almost any image I present here can be matched exactly, using the course slide set or one of my demonstration slides.

What started originally as a set of short notes has become a fair-sized book, thanks in large measure to the hundreds—no, by now it's thousands—of DVM students I've had the pleasure of teaching in my career. Their willingness to provide comments and suggestions for improvements, and their frank and open criticism of its flaws (sometimes a little too frank for my author's vanity to be happy about) have improved it immeasurably, and I hope that the classes that use this edition will feel free to make any further suggestions that might occur to them. Past experience assures me they will.

In writing these exercises, I've given free rein to my natural tendency to garrulousness. I suppose they're just a teensy bit wordier than is absolutely necessary (one or two course reviews say so every year). Well, so what? I had fun writing them, and as most of my past students know, I'm the kind of person who never uses one word where six will do. There are a lot of asides and footnotes in here not because they're all that important (surely some of them are?) but because I thought they were interesting in context. I've put in a lot of names and dates: the life sciences are a continuum, and the scientists of the past are as important to us as those of the present day. Modern medicine is built on the foundations they laid down. Most of the structures described in these exercises were discovered between 1850 and 1950, and represented new and exciting discoveries in their time; they are no less exciting because they aren't new anymore.

Sir Isaac Newton once remarked that "If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants," and it's my belief that scientists like Purkinje and Golgi and their contemporaries were giants who should be remembered and honored.

Blacksburg, Virginia, August 2006

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VM8054 Veterinary Histology