Rapid observation of unfixed, unstained human skin biopsy specimens with confocal microscopy and visualization

Barry R. Masters, David J. Aziz, Arthur F. Gmitro, James H. Kerr, Terence C. O'Grady, Leon Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The use of reflected light confocal microscopy is proposed to rapidly observe unfixed, unstained biopsy specimens of human skin. Reflected light laser scanning confocal microscopy was used to compare a freshly excised, unfixed, unstained biopsy specimen, and in vivo human skin. Optical sections from the ex vivo biopsy specimen of human skin and in vivo human skin were converted to red-green anaglyphs for three-dimensional visualization. Contrast was derived from intrinsic differences in the scattering properties of the organelles and cells within the tissue. Individual cellular layers were observed in both tissues from the surface to the papillary dermis. Confocal microscopy of an unfixed, unstained biopsy specimen showed cells and cell nuclei of the stratum spinosum. Confocal microscopy of in vivo human skin demonstrated optical sectioning through a hair shaft on the upper hand. The combination of reflected light confocal microscopy and three-dimensional visualization with red-green anaglyphs provides a rapid technique for observing fresh biopsies of human skin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-445
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • Laser scanning confocal microscope
  • Reflected light skin imaging
  • Skin biopsy
  • Three-dimensional confocal microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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