One of the questions I get asked more often on social media but also during cytology courses is
“What microscope would you recommend me to buy for my work in general practice?”.
That’s an easy question that does not have an easy answer!
As you know, there are lots of choices on the market, from well-established brands to more niche ones that sometimes are able to provide you very good instruments for a good price.
I have to say I am not a microscope specialist; however, I am a clinical pathologist working at the microscope every day for at least 8h and therefore I have the instruments to give you some good suggestions.
For me, the perfect microscope is represented by a solid and high-quality instrument that provides high-quality and durable performances and that also comes with good customer service. When I had the chance to try a MOTIC microscope for the first time, that’s exactly what happened. They provided me a very good quality microscope for a reasonable price and offered me an excellent customer service, which is one of the things I care the most when I purchase an item. I am sure it is the same for most of you.
The microscope I first tried and then ordered is called MOTIC PANTHERA U. It is a trinocular head microscope with infinity corrected plan achromatic 4X to 100X objectives and 3W LED transmitted illumination that gives you a nicely bright and white background colour (so important if you take photomicrographs!). It is a very robust instrument, easy and intuitive to use that is perfect in a general practice setting but also when used by clinical pathologists like me, working at the microscope for most of the day. The nose piece has also a LED light intensity indicator that shows you the current intensity of the light and makes the instrument very cool. If you grew up watching “Knight Rider”, you will certainly understand what I mean.
In terms of objectives, the microscope comes with a trinocular head with infinity corrected plan achromatic 4x, 10x, 40x, and 100x (oil) objectives. Beside these standard objectives, other objectives are available upon request. I personally ordered a 60x dry objective and found it very handy.
And then we have the CAMERA, because YES, sirs … we have a camera too! There are two main options! A more affordable Moticam X3 plus that captures images at 4MP and is WIFI (no cables!). Alternatively, a fancier Moticam Pro S5 lite with 5MP resolution. Both cameras come with C mount (the piece needed to connect the camera to the microscope) and a dedicated software to capture and edit images. Installation and set-up is very easy.
Provide the code VETYCTO to have access to a special offer reserved to Veterinary Cytology members
You will also receive a “microscope consumable free offer” composed of:
Microscope cleaning kit
Optics cleaning tissues
Microscope slides and coverslips
May-Grunwald Giemsa (MGG) Quick
Immediately after the microscope, the second question that comes from vets approaching cytology is
“What is the stain that gives you the better results and that is easy to use?”.
The vast majority of veterinary cytologists use Romanowsky-type stain as their primary stain. These are a combination of red and blue dyes, methanol, and phosphate buffers that provide cells a range of colours that go from blue/dark purple (basophilic) to orange/red (eosinophilic).
There are rapid versions of these stains (e.g. Diff Quik, Hemacolor) that are routinely used in veterinary practices as they can result in complete slide staining within few minutes as compared with 20-30 minutes for many automated stainers or other traditional Romanowsky-type stains. Overall, these stains provide good results but have some limitations. These include: a) possible failure to stain granules of mast cells, basophils and LGL lymphocytes b) poor nuclear and nucleolar details c) suboptimal identification of polychromatophils and neutrophils toxic changes.
Other Romanowsky-type stains, such as Giemsa, May-Grunwald Giemsa and Wright provide better quality smears. However, they require longer staining process which can take up to 20-30 minutes and may not be compatible with routine workflow, especially in busy veterinary practices.