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Low temperature scanning electron microscopy of dog and guinea-pig hyaline articular cartilage.

  • D L Gardner
  • P O'Connor
  • K Oates
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1981


Fifty seven blocks of cartilage excised from the femoral condyles of 20 beagle dogs, and whole lower ends of 5 guinea-pig femora, were examined at -195 degrees (78 K), by scanning electron microscopy. The unfixed tissue, taken into slushy nitrogen at -210 degrees (63 K), was not exposed to atmospheric air after quenching and remained fully hydrated throughout long periods of observation. Images susceptible to analysis were obtained from washed and from unwashed cartilage surfaces. Preliminary coating with gold or with aluminium, known to be possible without exposing cold cartilage surfaces to changes in temperature likely to cause water loss by sublimation, was valuable in minimising charging and in facilitating the recording of electron images at higher magnifications. Although examination was possible without coating, the resultant images were of low resolution. Microscopy revealed a pattern of secondary surface irregularities of tertiary elevations closely resembling those seen by the conventional scanning electron microscopy of fixed, dehydrated hyaline cartilage. However, the pattern of tertiary surface structures was predominantly that of elevations, not of hollows. Quaternary surface ridges were common on the surfaces of excised dog cartilage blocks and were not seen on the surfaces of guinea-pig cartilage which remained on the femoral condyles.

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