A microdissection and measurement technique has been adapted for biopsy of human small intestine. Specimens fixed in alcohol and acetic acid are Schiff stained in bulk. Villi and crypts are then dissected out under a dissecting microscope, placed under a coverslip, examined, measured, and the number of mitoses in individual crypts counted. With this method specimens of normal small intestine have been found to have villi 500 microns to 1100 microns long and crypts 150 microns to 300 microns. These values were double those obtained when measuring sections of the same specimens stained with haematoxylin and eosin. The mean number of mitoses per crypt in normal duodenum and jejunum ranged from 1 to 12 and most of the cells in mitosis were in prophase or telophase. This rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive technique complements the available methods of measuring small intestinal architecture.
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