Thermostatic tissue platform for intravital microscopy: 'the hanging drop' model
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Intravital microscopy imposes the particular problem of the combined control of the body temperature of the animal and the local temperature of the observed organ or tissues. We constructed and tested, in the rat ileum microcirculation preparation, a new organ-support platform. The platform consisted of an organ bath filled with physiological solution, and contained a suction tube, a superfusion tube, an intestine-support hand that was attached to a micromanipulator and a thermometer probe. To cover the intestine we used a cover glass plate with a plastic ring glued on its upper surface. After a routine procedure (anaesthesia, monitoring and surgery), the intestine segment (2-3 cm long) was gently exteriorized and placed on the 'hand' of the organ support. A small part of the intestine formed a small 'island' in the bath that was filled with physiological salt solution. The cover glass was secured in place. The physiological salt solution from the superfusion tube, which was pointed to the lower surface of the cover glass, formed a 'hanging drop'. The objective of the microscope was then immersed into distilled water that was formed by the cover glass plastic ring. The 'hanging drop' technique prevented any tissue quenching, ensured undisturbed microcirculation, provided for stable temperature and humidity, and permitted a clear visual field.
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